Last week my mom was not her usual quick-witted and bright self. She seemed confused and disoriented. Concerned and not knowing what was wrong, I wanted to make sure she ate a good lunch, got some fresh air and got some orange juice in her in case her blood sugar was low.
When our phone rang at 11:05 p.m. it was to let us know she had fallen and had a “goose egg” on her forehead. Turned out she had a UTI, or urinary tract infection. It made her foggy, she lost her balance and took a tumble. I’m grateful she didn’t break anything, but she got a colorful shiner when she bumped her head on the way to the floor. She kept saying, “You should see the other guy!”
The fall was not a good thing but it did result in a visit to the emergency room. The doctor administered every test imaginable and found that her dizziness (and glazed donut forehead) was the result of a UTI that could have developed into something worse if not diagnosed so soon.
UTIs are a common infection that affect women more than men and are treated by antibiotics, which usually stop the infection when it’s caught early. UTIs that go untreated and make their way into the blood stream can become septic. They can also spread to the kidneys and cause a lot of pain and illness.
Sepsis (blood poisoning) can wreak havoc on the system – and can be deadly. The urinary tract runs from your kidneys through the ureters, the bladder and out through the urethra.
A low UTI doesn’t affect the kidneys and is easily treated. The symptoms can include a low-grade fever, chills, confusion and disorientation. If you or a loved one show any of these signs, get checked out right away. UTIs are common in seniors. Statistics show many women get one or more in their lifetime as they age.
We were lucky that Mom’s UTI was caught early. After a 10-day regimen of antibiotics, she’s back to her normal happy self. She has, however, sworn off of kickboxing and ultimate fighting lessons!
Marla Luckhardt is a Discovery Bay resident and member of the East Contra Costa Senior Coalition. She works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. To contact her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.