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Urinary Tract Infection and Alzheimer's Disease


Updated: November 8, 2006

Nursing, Caregiver information about Urinary Tract Infections and dementia

Information about urinary tract infections (UTI)
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infections. Women get urinary tract infections more often than men.
Women who have had three urinary tract infections often continue having them.
Four out of five such women get another UTI within 18 months of the last UTI infection.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of urinary tract infections and get it treated quickly. Infections of the urinary system (the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra) can be very serious - even life threatening.
Caring for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or dementia poses particular problems. They may not be able to verbalize sufficiently well to tell you how they feel or what exactly is wrong. It means it is important to be aware that certain symptoms may mean a person has a urinary tract infection.

Urinary tract infection in the elderly or in people with Alzheimer's can profoundly affect, not only their health, but can result in significant behavioral changes. It is always worth considering changes in behavior may be due to infections like a urinary infection or constipation etc.

Function of the urinary system
The function of the urinary system is to rid the body of liquid waste. Our bodies produce about a quart and a half per day of urine. It is most important to maintain a good input and output of fluids to keep a healthy balance of substances and salts in the blood and produce a hormone that contributes to the formation of red blood cells.

The amount of urine produced at night is about half that produced in the daytime.

Causes of urinary tract infections and Alzheimer's disease
Some people are more likely to get a urinary tract infection than others.

  • In women the rate of urinary tract infections gradually increases with age. Why women are more prone to urinary infections than men unclear. There are a number of factors that may contribute or cause UTI's. (a)A woman's urethra is short, allowing bacteria quick access to the bladder. (b)The woman's urethral opening is near the anus and vagina and their bacteria. (c)sexual intercourse appears to trigger UTI infection.

  • People with diabetes have a higher risk of a UTI because of changes in the immune system. Any disorder that suppresses the immune system raises the risk of a urinary infection.

  • Any abnormality of the urinary tract that obstructs the flow of urine such as a kidney stone or enlarged prostate gland can slow the flow of urine, thus raising the risk of infection.

  • People who are catheterized or have tubes placed into the bladder are more prone to urinary tract infection. Infection can be introduced when catheters are inserted or bacteria can contaminate the catheter when they are used long term for people who have lost bladder control.
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