Why does Mom have so many UTIs?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 08, 2016
Momwacko asked...

My mom who is 80 and a stroke victim of fifteen years is having her second urinary tract infection three months exactly to the day of her previous one. My question is, how many is too many? She has access to water constantly all day and I try to remind her to use the restroom at least every two or three hours; sometimes she will go, sometimes she won't. She is completely soaked in the mornings and takes Detrol.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

As women age, the bladder and perineal area go through changes, making UTI's more likely.  There are many reasons for this, which include loss of estrogen and changes in the bacteria that live on the skin.  I am glad that she is drinking well,.  Frequent toileting, which you sound like your doing, can be helpful.  Since she is still incontinent, make sure that she is properly cleaned after each incontinence episode.  This is especially important if she is incontinent of stool.

You mention that she is on Detrol, which is supposed to reduce her incontinence.  Sometimes this medication can cause the bladder to not empty all the way, so I would ask her medical provider to check that out.  This can be a common side effect of this medication, especially in people who have bladder problems related to strokes.  If her bladder doesn't empty well, then that stagnant urine can cause a UTI. 

Some people swear that cranberry juice or Vitamin C help by making the urine more acidic, which can help reduce UTI's.  Medical research has not really proven these claims, but you could try it and see if it works for your mother.

If the infections continue, then you can talk to her doctor about suppressive therapy for the UTI's.  This consists of a daily dose of antibiotic that sometimes helps reduce UTI's. 

Hope this helps.  Good luck!


Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

This was a lot of help.It answers some of the things I am conserned about.I have been on Detrol for over 3 years and am haveing a lot of infections.Now I have some questions for the doctor. THANK YOU

Healthnow answered...

My mom is 86 and suffered UTI's all the time until I put her on this regimen:

Every Tuesday and Saturday she gets 1 capsule CRANBERRY EXTRACT and 500 mg MANNOSE (a simple sugar that makes e coli slough off the bladder and come out in the urine). She gets both of these morning and evening. I get both through an online vitamin shop; there are many that offer it.

If there is any HINT that she might be getting a UTI, I make a cup of Women's Bladder Control Tea for her for a couple of days. The 'hints' are losing her balance or urinating more frequently or cloudy urine.

A year ago she was completely incontinent and had several UTI's in a 4 month period. They were treated with antibiotics, of course, but the UTI's kept coming back -- until we gave her the bladder control tea daily for several days. With it, she became totally continent again and lost all signs of UTI and remains so a year later on the regimen above.

You may want to check with your doctor to make sure the herbs in the bladder control tea don't interact with the Detrol. They shouldn't, but one never knows. The tea is about $18 a box and can be purchased at most reputable herb and vitamin stores. I recommend to every woman with any kind of incontinence and have had many reports of success come back.

Good luck!

Uncle leo answered...

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink". My late wife, may she rest in peace, who also had frequent UTI's had access to water all day long but never drank it because it was a "bother" for her to use the restroom. There were a lot of problems with her health because of her dehydration. I hope this helps. May God bless you and good luck!

Bulldogfive answered...

My mom has had a history of frequent bladder infections and also has had to get up several times a night to urinate. Also, she has had some problems with bowel incontinence. Her regular doctor prescribed oxybutinin for overactive bladder, but she still had a new infection about every six to eight weeks. I made sure that she let me help with the cleanup after bowel problems so that she wasn't as likely to get infections from that source, but she still was having frequent infections. We finally got her doctor to refer her to a urologist who said that her bladder had "dropped" and that she wasn't able to empty it completely - that this was probably the cause of the frequent infections. He took her off of the medication for overactive bladder and put her on Flomax (which is generally prescribed for men) to make it easier for her to void her bladder. It took some getting used to, but since she has been on it she hasn't had another infection and she is getting better in other ways too. She's actually getting up less often at night. The other things I have her do is cranberry pills (started before the urologist) and vitamin D.

This whole long story is to basically say - find a doctor that will look farther than the first pill that comes to mind.

Radio51 answered...

Two years ago my mom had 5 UTI's all requiring hospitaliation. Her hydration habits are poor at best unless the fluid is "acuppa". I was thinking about her med history over the years. She is 89 and back in the day when the women were having natural childbirth and too many children than their bodys could handle. Often the bladder and uterus would "drop" . Many women opted for a surgical procedure to tie these up to walls. The organs would actually protrude through the vagina creating UTI's. My mom opted for a device known as a pessary. Often women and their doctor's did not replace this device often and after having one for 25 plus years, I asked the doctor to check hers for calification (this process on the device which looks like a diaphram) is perfect bed for infections. Sure enough, once the device was checked and replaced, the UTI's disappeared. Thank goodness!