Could my mother's constant bladder infections be caused by the adult diapers she is using?

Asked by

My wonderful 90-year-old mother has been plagued with bladder infections all year and has been on 20 antibiotics. Now she has c. diff. and is struggling to recover. The bladder infections make her dizzy, cranky and combative and exhausted, and the c. diff. is a nightmare.

In January she was dizzy, confused and disoriented from a bladder infection, jumped out of bed to answer an imaginary doorbell around sunrise, and fell and broke her leg.

I have tried everything I know to help with the infections: cranberry juice, cranberry pills, vitamin c, lots of water, lots of rest and exercise, yoga to help her immune system and stamina, 20 antibiotics, I've gotten her Ready Wipes to use in the bathroom, and a bidet, but just had her tested yesterday and she has another infection. It's heartbreaking. She has such a wonderful quality of life when she is not worn out from the illnesses, and these infections are just taking over our lives.

Could it be the Poise Pads and Depends she uses?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Expert Answer
3931 helpful answers
This is so sad! Has she seen a urologist? I'm assuming she has.

A geriatrician who really knows the problems of elders may be helpful. You could try different incontinence products,but it seems as though you are doing nearly everything imaginable. I would keep checking with specialists to see if someone has an idea. The very best to you and your mom as you cope with this distressing problem.
Has she been checked for prolapsed bladder? One thing they put my mother on which has seemed to help a lot is estrogen cream - she still has incontinence but the bladder infections have stopped. We were at the point of considering an operation when the gynecologist said - "what is the main thing you want to fix" - since even with an operation the incontinece was probably not going to be fixed. I said - the infections - and the doctor suggested trying the cream before doing anything invasive. It's almost been a year now and my mother hasn't had another infection. Luckily this was a doctor who thought non-invasive is the best solution. The urologist was the one pushing for an operation. I am so glad we found this solution.
Every time I read about a 'recurring bladder infection' I feel compelled to add my 'two cents' I am not a doctor, but what I am about to recommend worked for years for my mother, and I use it for myself AND even my dogs.

The urologist/gynocologist should have done a CULTURE on the urine to see just what 'bacteria' is present. If this hasn't been done, please request that a culture be done. Most time they will NOT do a culture until requested. That being said I also agree that ANYONE using ANTIbiotics, needs to take PRObiotics between antibiotic doses to repopulate the system with GOOD bacteria. NO bacteria in the system is almost as detrimental as the existence of 'bad' bacteria in the system. We (mother and I) used D-Mannose to ward off urinary tract infections which can result in bladder infections. Please take a few minutes to read the information I reposted from one of hundreds of sources online. D-Mannose is available in whole food stores (bulk powder is least expensive) and since it is a powdered sugar, VERY easy to add to cereal, coffee, juice... etc.

I hope this helps... it is certainly worth researching. Again... I am not a doctor but I cared for my mother for 5years and we had much success with this product.

God Bless.
evelyn: I couldn't agree more about the difference in the "generations." My personal regimen is to prevent rather than cure. My Mom is all about going to the doctor for a "cure" which usually means pills or surgery.
I eat yogurt daily and take a probiotic before bedtime. I haven't had a UTI or yeast infection in years.
Now having my Mom do something on a daily basis is another story. When she first arrived here she was having terrible problems with constipation. She used harsh laxatives that her docs recommended, etc. I finally told her to incorporate ground flax seed (which I buy at the grocery store) in her diet every day. "Magically" the constipation disappeared. But, to this day, she thinks she only needs to use it when she is feeling constipated.
I will do anything not to have to go to the doctor. The last time I did, he gave me a new antibiotic that I had never tried. It sent me to the ER with a bad reaction. I am not saying that all drugs are bad...there are MANY beneficial ones. But ya' got to wonder when drug companies are advertising on television and when I go to the pharmacy I see hundreds of prescriptions waiting to be picked up. I once lived near the Astra-Zeneca corporate was nicer and bigger than most college campuses.
Seniors are especially vulnerable because Western medicine has convinced them that aging is a "disease." When they go to new doctors they load them up with new drugs without eliminating some of the old ones. My in-laws had 15+ bottles of pills they took everyday.
I am a fan of naturopathy because their philosophy is holistic: the body, mind and spirit working as one. I think the best of all worlds is your MD and ND working together....but, that is highly unlikely.
Bottom line: start with the simplest and safest solution then go from there...
btw, heavy duty antibiotics will cause the problem to return because it takes out the good bacteria along with the bad. When she is on the antibiotics have her take a pro-biotic, like refrigerated acidophilus.
My Mom uses the pads. I ask her to change them as soon as they become wet. I also asked her to go to the bathroom to void anytime she is up to do anything. That way the bacteria has no time to cause problems.
Keeping the area as dry as possible is the challenge. Also, in-between showers your Mom can use a vinegar/water wash to cleanse the outer area. Then use cornstarch powder (never use a powder that contains talc).
Adult diapers are good for the condition, but trap moisture. I wish there was an alternative because both pads and diapers have an outer plastic covering.
Mom has UTI a lot . At night I do not put her in Diapers anymore I just lay them under her . That way she airs out. I have to have underpads to or there is a mess sometimes . But she does not move around so it is not to bad. The nurses said she does not get enough water intake since it is hard to get her to drink and eat sometimes. And that might be the cause of her infections so much.
Excellent suggestions from everyone. My 87 year old mom had her first UTI that had her hallucinating, cursing & screaming, etc. which was not like her at all. I hontestly didn't know what was wrong at the time - it came on so sudden. Now I tell all my friends how UTI's in elderly women cause these symptoms (they weren't aware either). The water idea is very important - as the system needs to flush itself out. I drink water with a few squirts of lemon juice as a urologist told me years ago that the lemon works to flush out the liver, kidneys and bladder than just plain water. Of course mom wouldn't drink it - didn't even want plain water. Yes definitely sitting in her wet diaper sure doesn't help the situation. "tulipdog" - very interesting about the estrogen cream. I knew someone that had a prolapsed urethea and they used the cream for 2 weeks - problem gone. Glad you were able to solve a problem without surgery! "Lilliput" - yes you're right - heavy duty antibiotics will cause the problem (UTI's) to continue because basically until "her system" is brought back to normal after using the antibiotics - you are never really clearing up the problem of the UTI. Definitely, use of probiotics is MANDATORY to get her system cleared up. I tried to make sure they were giving my mom probiotics every day in rehab which they tried -and I brought her some probiotic snacks when I went everyday to visit - but of course
mom didn't want them - it was easier to take a pill (different generation!!!) - yes an
antibiotic again and wouldn't listen when she was told that it was the antibiotic that was actually causing this chain reaction - UTI then C-diff (which she constantly had) How could it be - the doctor gave her the antibiotic and he should be right - was her attitude. Like I said "different generation". So it was impossible to help her - but I tried everything from my end that I could. Probably the best thing is to try all of these suggestions. Hope things work out. Thoughts and prayers to you as I know how hard it is to be a caregiver.
I had my Mom on low-dose antibiotics on a daily basis and she didn't have a bladder infection for almost 2 years. They decided to take her off and she has had 4-6 in the last 8 months. I'm assuming they took her off vbecause of antibiotic tolerance but at my mom's age (95), I think falling, diarrhea, and confusion is a bigger issue. I checking into getting her back on them. You might want to check with her doctor about this option.
Ok, I just saw where you can read the answers to your question. I agree with all of what you have tried and liliput is right on too. I've worked for a D.C/naturopathic for 13.5 years (just was layed off) and I did a working interview with anotherM.D. the other day who had a weight loss side to his clinic. They have a therapy and sell a product that is a pre-biotic followed up by a pro-biotic that is supposed to help balance your intestinal flora and detox your gut in some way. I'll find out about it and let you know because I was wanting some for myself. I know the stress eating I have been indulging in is making me feel out of sorts intestinally. My mom is also 94 and thank goodness for this website.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support