PARKINSON’S DISEASE & INFECTIONS

URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS (UTIs) – Be aware when as a caregiver you notice your charge (PWP) has suddenly become lethargic, cognitively impaired, fatigued and can’t or won’t respond to normal activities of daily living he or she may have a UTI. Get them to their doctor for urinalysis as quickly as possible. More often than not, a PWP does not feel a UTI or bladder infection.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common ailment that involves inflammation of the urinary system. A group prone to developing urinary tract infections is those who have Parkinson’s disease, a serious nervous system disorder.

The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Together, these structures work to remove waste from the circulating blood, convert it to urine and then express it from the body. The kidneys filter the blood for waste products and create urine with the urea, excess water and other impurities they remove. The ureters continuously draw the urine from the kidneys and dump it into the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until it is full and then releases the urine into the urethra. The urethra leads the urine out of the body.

Sometimes, bacteria that are normally present on the skin, in the intestinal tract or the stool spread into the urinary system. The spreading of this bacteria normally occurs through the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body. In many cases, your body’s immune system will disarm any foreign bacteria. However, when it does not, the bacteria begin to colonize the urethra. As the bacteria reproduce, they travel up the urinary system, infecting the bladder and sometimes the kidneys. As a rule, the higher up the urinary tract that the bacteria travel, the more serious the infection has become.

Parkinson’s disease patients are prone to urinary tract infections. When the bladder is full, it alerts the brain through nerve cells, and the brain uses additional nerve cells to tell the muscles to relax and allow the urine to excrete. On the other hand, the patient may be able to urinate but does not have enough muscle control to empty all urine from the bladder completely. Thus, Parkinson’s disease patients have a hard time emptying their bladder, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, and scientists are still unsure of what causes it. However, the disease is typically managed through medication, and the condition causes UTIs. Valient hygiene might help in preventing UTIs. The patient’s genitals should be kept clean and dry. After bowel movements, wiping front to back will help prevent bacteria from being spread to the urethra. Many Parkinson’s disease patients also use a catheter, which is a tube inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. The catheter allows the bladder to be completely drained and reduces the risk of UTIs.

UTIs are treated with antibiotics. After treatment, it is best to get a laboratory re-evaluation to make certain the infection is COMPLETELY gone.

Taking an antibiotic isn’t the only way to get over symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

Some remedies don’t require a prescription, and they can be done right at home in addition to any treatment your doctor has recommended.

But it’s important to be cautious with do-it-yourself home solutions, and be sure to check in with your doctor before trying a new strategy on your own.

The following viable home remedies—from drinking lots of water to applying heat and wearing loose cotton clothing—may ease your agonizing UTI symptoms or prevent them in the first place.

  1. Get Your Fill of Water – One of the first things to do when you have a urinary tract infection is drink plenty of water. That’s because drinking water can help flush away the bacteria that’s causing your infection, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). It puts you on the right track for recovery.

Most people can be assured they’re getting the water they need by simply drinking water when thirsty, according to the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. General recommendations have suggested that women get about 91 ounces of water daily and men get about 125 ounces each day, including water from food, as also noted in that group’s report.

  1. Load Up on Vitamin C for a Healthy Urinary Tract – Getting plenty of foods high in vitamin C is important because large amounts of vitamin C make urine more acidic. This inhibits the growth of bacteria in your urinary tract, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine’s health library. If you have an active UTI, taking vitamin C supplements may help, too, advises Kandis Rivers, MD, a urologist in the Henry Ford Health System in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
  2. Soothe UTI Pain With Heat – It is rare that a person with Parkinson’s FEELS their UTI; however, if they do, Inflammation and irritation from UTIs can cause burning, pressure, and pain around your pubic area. Applying a heating pad can help soothe the area. Keep the heat setting low, don’t apply it directly to the skin, and limit your use to 15 minutes at a time to avoid burns.
  3. Cut Bladder Irritants From Your Diet – When you have a UTI, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, nicotine, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners can irritate your bladder further, making it harder for your body to heal. Focus on healthy foods, like high-fiber carbohydrates (such as oatmeal or lentil soup), that are good for your digestive health.
  4. Go Ahead, Empty Your Bladder Again – Every time you empty your bladder—even if it’s just a small amount—you rid it of some of the bacteria causing the infection. Keep making those bathroom runs, advises Rivers.
  5. Consider Herbal Remedies – You may find some relief from taking the herb uva ursi (bearberry leaf), which is sometimes used as an herbal remedy for lower urinary tract infections. But caution, it should be taken only for short periods of time—five days or less—as it could cause liver damage. Also, the herb goldenseal may be used as a remedy for UTIs, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

It’s important to note that even though these herbs may help some, there have been no large randomized controlled trials (the gold standard when it comes to proving the effectiveness of a drug or treatment in medicine) testing either of these remedies for this purpose.

And always be sure to check with your doctor before taking goldenseal or other supplements. Supplements, herbs, and other medications you might be taking can cause side effects or may interact with one another. The effects can sometimes be serious.

  1. Change to Healthier Habits – Lifestyle changes matter because they can help you recover from a UTI and might prevent another infection.

Wear loose cotton clothing and underwear.

Wipe yourself clean from front to back.

Choose only fragrance-free personal hygiene products.

Cranberry Juice and UTIs – For years, unsweetened cranberry juice was thought to help flush away bacteria and keep them from sticking to the bladder wall, possibly helping to prevent or reduce recurrent UTIs. But a review of 14 studies published in December 2013 in American Family Physician showed that cranberry juice might not have real benefits.

While more studies may clear up this issue, for now, cranberry juice is no longer recommended as a UTI fighter.

SEPSIS Many chronic or progressive diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, put you at risk for developing infections. The diseases themselves aren’t fatal, but their effects can be. For example, as Parkinson’s disease progresses, it can become increasingly difficult for you to swallow food and drink without choking. You may aspirate the food or drink, which means it goes into the lungs instead of your stomach. When you aspirate, you can develop pneumonia, an infection that can trigger sepsis.

People with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease are at risk of falling and their skin being cut or scraped. These injuries can become infected. Falls can also cause fractures, such as a broken hip. If a fracture breaks through the skin (an open fracture) or needs surgery for the bone to be set, again, there is the chance of infection.

When you have a chronic or progressive illness, being admitted to a healthcare facility, a hospital or rehabilitation facility, isn’t unusual. This puts you at risk for developing healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), most frequently, infections such as MRSA and C. difficile.

Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and treatment for survival.

Sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, such as pneumonia, influenza, or urinary tract infections. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction (organs don’t work properly) and/or amputations.

There are many ways someone with a chronic or progressive can develop an infection, so it’s important always to be aware of the possibility and to watch for the signs and symptoms of sepsis. Quick recognition and treatment is the key to survival.