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.
How did I get a urine infection?
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.
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.
Did you find this information useful?
- Management of suspected bacterial urinary tract infection in adults; Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network - SIGN (updated guidelines 2012)
- Guidelines on Urological Infections; European Association of Urology (2015)
- Urinary tract infection (lower) - women; NICE CKS, July 2015 (UK access only)
- Urinary tract infection (lower) - men; NICE CKS, October 2014 (UK access only)
- Rowe TA, Juthani-Mehta M; Urinary tract infection in older adults. Aging health. 2013 Oct 9(5). doi: 10.2217/ahe.13.38.
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