Urinary tract infections in the elderly population.

Research paper by S James SJ Matthews, Jason W JW Lancaster

Indexed on: 16 Aug '11Published on: 16 Aug '11Published in: The American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem in the elderly population. The spectrum of disease varies from a relatively benign cystitis to potentially life-threatening pyelonephritis.This review covers the management of asymptomatic bacteriuria, acute uncomplicated cystitis, acute uncomplicated pyelonephritis, antibiotic resistance, catheter-associated bacteriuria/symptomatic UTIs, and antibiotic prophylaxis for recurrent infections in elderly men and women.Literature was obtained from English-language searches of MEDLINE (1966-April 2011), Cochrane Library, BIOSIS (1993-April 2011), and EMBASE (1970-April 2011). Further publications were identified from citations of resulting articles. Search terms included, but were not limited to, urinary tract infections, asymptomatic bacteriuria, acute uncomplicated cystitis, acute uncomplicated pyelonephritis, antibiotic resistance, catheter associated urinary tract infections, recurrent urinary tract infections, and elderly.The prevalence of UTIs in elderly women depends on the location in which these women are living. For elderly women living in the community, UTIs compromise the second most common infection, whereas in residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) and hospitalized subjects, it is the number one cause of infection. The spectrum of patient presentation varies from classic signs and symptoms in the independent elderly population to atypical presentations, including increased lethargy, delirium, blunted fever response, and anorexia. Although there are few guidelines specifically directed toward the management of UTIs in the elderly population, therapy generally mirrors the recommendations for the younger adult age groups. When choosing a treatment regimen, special attention must be given to the severity of illness, living conditions, existing comorbidities, presence of external devices, local antibiotic resistance patterns, and the ability of the patient to comply with therapy.Improved guidelines for the diagnosis and management of UTIs in the elderly population are needed. Better techniques to evaluate and prevent catheter-associated bacteriuria and UTIs await improved diagnostic modalities and catheter technologies. Alternative methods for prophylaxis of patients who suffer from recurrent infections must be found while minimizing the risk of developing or propagating antibiotic resistance.