Diagnosis, prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections in older people

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Diagnosis, prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections in older people

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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in older people, with the prevalence increasing with age in both sexes. UTI is a frequent reason for emergency admission to hospital. There are many conditions that contribute to older people being more at risk of UTI and the main preventive strategy is to avoid the use of indwelling urethral catheters. Where an indwelling catheter is inserted its continued use should be regularly reviewed and the catheter removed, especially if the reason for insertion is incontinence and the person becomes additionally incontinent of faeces.

Diagnosis of UTI can be complex because older people do not always exhibit the signs and symptoms commonly associated with UTI. Diagnosis can be further complicated by a person’s inability to provide a comprehensive history and by difficulties obtaining an uncontaminated, ‘clean catch’ urine specimen. Antibiotic therapy should not be used routinely for people with asymptomatic bacteriuria and, where antibiotics are required, healthcare professionals should follow local prescribing guidelines.

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