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January 25, 2001

Other Illnesses

Question from Atlanta, Georgia, USA:

My 70 year old mother has type 1 diabetes. She is a leukemia survivor (20 years) and has hepatitis C, high blood pressure, etc. She gets infections easily, and now she is just getting over a bad bladder infection. Is there anything she can do to prevent bladder infections? Why do they occur?


There are a number of reasons why people get bladder infections. Women have them more frequently than men. Patients who are chronically immunosuppressed have them more often. Similarly, patients who have long-standing Foley catheters [for urine drainage] have them more frequently. These are issues for her to raise with her physician.

On occasion, a strategy is used to give chronic suppressing doses of antibiotics to prevent an infection before it begins. The results are variable, depending on the risk factors involved. It should also be added that good blood sugar control is also a helpful deterrent to urinary tract infections.