Recognizing the Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections in Older Adults

 Recognizing the Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections in Older Adults

Pain or burning when you urinate is one of the tell-tale signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Though UTIs affect all ages, your risk of developing this infection increases as you age. 

Symptoms of UTIs vary and may go unrecognized or dismissed as some other age-related problem like incontinence or an enlarged prostate. A UTI may lead to a more serious infection or kidney damage without treatment.

At Adult and Pediatric Urology, our experienced urologist, Dr. Alfred Shtainer, provides comprehensive care for all urinary system conditions, including UTIs.

Because November is National Bladder Health Awareness month, we think it’s important to share some symptoms older adults may have with a UTI for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Discomfort when urinating

A UTI is an infection most often caused by Escherichia coli (E.coli), a bacteria that comes from outside the body. This bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your bladder for elimination.

The infection causes inflammation, which results in pain or a burning sensation you feel when you urinate. After menopause, women may already experience pain during urination due to changes in vaginal tissue from declining estrogen levels. 

These age-related changes can make it hard for some women to recognize the difference between menopause symptoms and a UTI. But when there’s a sudden increase in pain, you need to schedule an appointment to confirm or rule out a UTI. 

Sudden urge to urinate

It’s not uncommon for older adults to have an overactive bladder (OAB), also called urge incontinence. OAB causes a sudden and unexpected urge to urinate that may lead to loss of urine before you reach the bathroom. 

This intense urge to urinate is a common UTI symptom that may be dismissed as part of the aging process. However, if your urge to urinate is sudden or worse than usual, it’s time to schedule an appointment to get checked for a UTI.  

Pain in the lower pelvic area or back

A UTI may cause pain in the lower part of your pelvic area (near your bladder) or the lower back. Like the other symptoms, these are common pain issues you may dismiss as something else. But it could also be a UTI. The urinary infection causes inflammation of the tissue surrounding the urinary system, causing this type of pain.

Change in urine smell or color

If your urine smells funny or is cloudy, red, or pink, you need to get checked for a UTI. Normally, your urine is varying shades of yellow, depending on how much water you drink. The more water you drink, the lighter your urine. 

A change in the smell or color of your urine are signs of a possible infection or something else that needs an evaluation from an experienced urologist. 

Mental fog

It’s not uncommon for older adults to have none of the other symptoms but suddenly develop changes in mental status. They may seem confused or loopy. 

If you feel mentally off or like you’re walking in a fog, you could have a UTI. 

UTI symptoms are similar to other conditions that affect older adults. You need to schedule an evaluation if you have concerns about a UTI. Call our office in Manhattan, Queens, or Brooklyn, New York, book an appointment online today.