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A Surprising Reaction to a Urinary Tract Infection

Updated on June 16, 2012
This is probably the expression I had on my face when the doctor told me it could be a UTI!
This is probably the expression I had on my face when the doctor told me it could be a UTI! | Source

I have a friend who I am a co-caregiver for that has dementia. She has a lot of the symptoms of dementia, but has never been violent. About a month ago, she started crying all the time, and I do mean all the time. Except when she was sleeping (which was not often) she was crying. It was very disturbing and sad to try to get her to explain what was wrong.

Anyone who has dealt with someone with dementia knows what I'm talking about. They often can't explain, in a logical way, what they are feeling. Sometimes, when they talk, it really makes no sense. So trying to find out what's wrong, so you can help them, can be frustrating and next to impossible.

This went on with my friend for a few days and we took her to her doctor. I thought she might be suffering from anxiety because she kept saying she was afraid. Her doctor put her on an anti-anxiety medication, but it didn't really help. The crying was just the beginning of an alarming set of new reactions from her.

She wouldn't eat much (and was a good eater before this), wasn't sleeping much and was constantly on the move, just wandering from room to room. She also began to try to open the doors to get out of the house, something she really never did, as she can't figure it out. But she began twisting the keys and doorknobs and we eventually had to tape over them.

The most alarming part came when she started becoming violent. She started hitting things like tables over and over again and picking things up and throwing them down. Eventually she started hitting, shoving and kicking me. Unfortunately her doctor took this time to go out of town, so we had to wait for four days to get her back to the doctor. When we finally got her there, which was a tremendous effort as she didn't want to go, she was admitted to the hospital that day.

They had to put restraints on her once we actually go her into a bed and it's very hard to see someone you care so much about in that condition. When the hospital doctor told me she thought she might have a urinary tract infection (UTI) I looked at her like she was crazy. I've known many women who had UTI's and they never ever reacted this way. Was she nuts?

No, she wasn't nuts. When they finally got a sample and tested her, she in fact had a UTI. Once they started the antibiotics, she calmed down the next day! It was the most miraculous thing I've ever seen or heard of. Since then, she has come home again and is still not "normal", because of the dementia, but is no longer violent or crying.

I have talked to several people since then, and done some research on the Internet, and found this to be quite common. They tend to say "in the elderly" (and my friend just turned sixty, so she's not that elderly) but I have to assume it can also apply to people who have any kind of mental challenge going on.

If something happens like this to someone you know be sure to have them checked for a UTI.

Have you ever heard of this?

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    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Monica, it was sure a surprise to me too! Thanks for stopping by and reading!

    • Monica Kay 215 profile image

      Monica Kay 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This is my first time hearing about this. I will certainly pass it along.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Thanks btrbell. It is a sad situation for everyone involved. I had no idea a UTI could cause this reaction in people with mental health issues, so I wanted to spread the word in case anyone else is dealing with this sort of situation. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Wow! Who knew?! You are a wonderful person taking care of your friend like that! How very sad for her and you (and her family) to be so young with dementia. Thank you for sharing this

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Bonitaanna, thanks for the information. I'll check out your hub and look into the herbs you recommended. Thanks for reading!

    • Bonitaanna profile image

      Bonitaanna 5 years ago from Oil City, PA

      Hi Catgypsy, Very interesting. I am going to be 69 years old my next birthday. I am a certified Iridiologist and herbalist. Everytime I don't drink enough fluids the first sign is a burning uretha! I use the herb Uva Ursi immediately and drink alot of water. That totally stops any urinary problems right there in its tracks. Also Cornsilk. So it would be good for you to have that on hand. They are both herbs for the urinary tract and I will not be caught without them. Especially if I travel. I get them from Nature sunshine Herb company. Read my Hub called "Emergency Kit For Traveling" It will tell you the things that I use that are natural.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      Alta, I guess that was part of it. It was really surprising though to see such violence, since she had never showed that before. My dear mom had dementia and would sometimes get a little violent, but nothing like this. All the best to you, dealing with a loved ones dementia is so heartbreaking.

    • Alta5656 profile image

      Alta5656 5 years ago from Davao City, Philippines

      I believe it is not just because of the UTI but due to the discomfort or probably the pain that she cannot explain. Her wanting to get out of the house probably means she wanted to see other people who can help her since she didn't get the response she wanted. And since she got locked-up she got violent because she's angry. My 89 year-old mother has dementia.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 5 years ago from the South

      That's a point justateacher! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I have never heard of this buy it makes sense...if the woman hadan undiagnosed UTI and couldn't explain the pain and discomfort....I might act violent too! Great information!