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Playing Detective

By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
 
(Page 3 of 3)

Prevention

As with many things, the best treatment for a UTI is prevention.

Women who have experienced a UTI at least once see increased odds of a reoccurrence.  Approximately 20 percent of women who’ve had a UTI will experience a second one and 30 percent of those women will get a third.

For a loved one with incontinence, here are some specific tips to apply. First, change the briefs frequently and encourage front-to-back cleaning of the genital area. Keeping that area clean is of utmost importance, as is setting reminders for the memory-impaired to remember to use the bathroom if they are able.

Some other general ways to prevent UTIs include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (professionals recommend 2 to 4 quarts per day). This makes it harder for bacteria to live and multiply in the urinary tract by flushing it out.
  • Drink cranberry juice or take a cranberry tablet. This is not recommended if a loved one has a personal or family history of kidney stones, however.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which irritate the bladder
  • Avoid use of feminine hygiene products such as douches
  • If wearing underwear, use cotton and change at least once a day.

Prevention also comes by understanding how UTIS are developed in the senior population to begin with, and what may make a loved one more susceptible to the issue.

First, those with diabetes are at a higher risk. This disease affects many of the systems that protect against any type of infection, and poor circulation reduces the white blood cells’ mobility to the proper places in the body. Women diabetics are more likely to develop a UTI, and some doctors will routinely screen asymptomatic patients in order to prevent more serious complications.

Those with the inability to empty their bladder, or bowel incontinence, as well as those who use a urinary catheter have an increased risk for UTI development. Surgery anywhere around the bladder area can contribute to the rise of the condition, as can kidney stones.

A big risk factor is lack of physical activity, especially for those bound to a wheelchair or bed.

Prevention is important, but caregivers can’t be too careful and should keep their eyes and ears open to changes in behavior of a loved one, no matter how subtle. Whether a fall, increased confusion, inability to get to the bathroom on time, these things should be noted and monitored in the event they are smaller symptoms of a larger issue.

 

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