Urine Infection in Older People

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 24 Mar 2016

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Laurence Knott, 24 Mar 2016

If you have a urine infection, you have germs (bacteria) in your bladder, kidneys or the tubes of your urinary system. Urine infections are more common in older people, and there is more likely to be an underlying cause.

Most urine infections are caused by germs (bacteria) travelling from the skin up the tubes of the urinary system. In men, this distance is further, and the end of the urine tube is further away from the germs of the guts. So men tend to get urinary tract infections (UTIs) less commonly than women.

Male genitals and urinary tract
Side view of female genitals and cross-section diagram of urinary tract

If you a have permanent or temporary tube (called a catheter) placed in your bladder, you are more likely to get UTIs, as the germs have easier access to your insides. Catheters tend to be more common in older people.

As you get older, UTIs become more common. This is because you are more likely to have conditions which make it easier for germs to get access to your urinary system. In men, enlarged prostate glands prevent proper emptying of the bladder, which encourages UTIs. In women, after menopause the tissue around the lower end of the urinary tube (urethra) gets thinner and more dry. This means the germ-repelling function works less well.

Having said that, many urine infections happen to people without these problems, just as they do in younger people.

Further reading and references

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