Why Are UTIs More Common with Age?

Nov 02, 2023
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November is National Bladder Health Awareness Month, so we want you to be aware that if you’re an older adult, you’re at high risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Find out why here.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when you have an infection in your urinary tract, including your bladder, kidneys, and urethra. When you have a UTI, you might feel the urge to urinate more often, have a burning sensation when you urinate, and even have more serious symptoms such as vomiting and a fever.

UTIs affect over 8 million people nationwide every single year, making it one of the most prevalent infections. Because UTIs are so common, November is National Bladder Health Awareness Month in order to spread knowledge about the condition. 

So, at the Texas Infectious Disease Institute, our team led by Serge Lartchenko, MD, wants you to know that many things can put you at risk for developing UTIs, but one of the main ones is older age. In this blog, we discuss why age can increase your risk for UTIs and what to do about it.

Understanding how age impacts UTIs

UTIs can happen to anyone, but women — especially women who are postmenopausal or over the age of 65 — are much more likely to develop them. This is because as women age, estrogen levels go down. Estrogen plays an integral part in keeping good bacteria and getting rid of bad bacteria, so when those hormone levels are low, the likelihood of infection goes up.

Other risk factors for UTIs that are more prevalent when you’re older include usage of certain medications, having prior UTIs, catheter use, and incontinence.

It’s also important to note that while older adults often present with classic symptoms of UTIs, such as burning pain and frequent urination, more often than not, there’s also going to be behavioral symptoms. This can include confusion, hallucinations, social withdrawal, agitation, and lethargy. 

This is due to the fact that as you age, your immune system’s reaction to the infection is much slower.

Reducing risk for UTIs

When you’re an older adult with a high risk of UTIs, it’s vital that you take steps to prevent developing them. Some things you can do to lower your risk of UTIs include:

  • drink plenty of water on a regular basis
  • practice good hygiene by wiping front to back and washing your hands
  • take a probiotic
  • avoid drinking bladder irritants such as coffee or alcohol
  • urinate as often as you need to and change incontinence pads when wet

If you’re a postmenopausal woman who’s prone to UTIs, you may want to consider certain vaginal creams or estrogen supplements to help lower risk for recurrent UTIs. 

What to do if you develop a UTI

If you’re an older adult and you suspect that you have a UTI, it’s probably wise to seek treatment so you mitigate your risk of the infection spreading to your kidneys. At the Texas Infectious Disease Institute, we can properly diagnose your UTI and help come up with an appropriate treatment plan. 

For more information on how age impacts your risk for UTIs or to be treated for one, contact our team to set up an appointment. You can do this by giving us a call or by using our online scheduler today.