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Off Topic: Info if you've ever had a stroke or have a loved one who has

sandra4611's picture
Posts: 121
Joined: Sep 2013

I've been in the hospital for the last two days and wanted to share some important information I found out the hard way. I had a moderate brain stem stroke this time last year. The accute symptoms have resolved with time and rehab, but I'll always have a balance problem. A few days ago I felt a wave of vertigo, just like I did last year. It happened again but was minor so I was alert, but not concerned. Two days ago it hit me 10 times worse than last year and nearly knocked me to the ground. My eyes were jumping up and down - verticle nystagmous, much faster than last year, so we went to the ER. An MRI showed no new infarcts so the neurologist and internal medicine docs did more tests to find out what was causing the stroke symptoms.

It turn out that when people who have had a prior stroke get a urinary tract infection (I had no idea...had no symptoms yet) they CAN develop an "unmasking syndrome" where prior stroke symtoms come back. It doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's usually with a UTI. It can happen with pneumonia or a bacterial blood infection too. Doesn't happen with ANY other infection or stress to the body. The doctors have no idea why. There is so much about the brain they don't know.

So I'm on Cipro for 3 days which will kill the UTI and the neurologist says the symptoms should resolve by next week as soon as the brain settles down. I asked how I was supposed to know when I was having a stroke or if it was unmasking syndrom. The doc said there is no way to tell the difference, so I have to go to the ER every time this happens and plan on being there a couple of days. Hopefully it never will again. So be forewarned if you have had a stroke. This can happen to you.

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

Thank you so much for this important information.  I didn't know that a uti could unmask stroke sumptoms.

Along the same lines, did you know that,  in the elderly, the presenting sign of a uti is often confusion.  My mother-in-law has done this at least 3 times.  She has mild dementia, but she will suddenly be much, much worse.  She then often has a seizure (she has epilepsy or what is now called a seizure disorder).  The reason that the elderly present with confusion rather than urinary frequency, blood in the urine, burning, etc. is that they lack a normal immune response (with age we have less and less anibodies).  Instead their symptoms are usually all neuro.  If you have an elderly friend or relative who is suddenly much worse, make sure a simple urinalysis and cbc are done!

Thee brain is fascinating to me too!

"Elderly people with serious urinary tract infection don't exhibit the hallmark sign of fever because their immune system is unable to mount a response to infection due to the effects of aging. In fact, elders often don't exhibit any of the common symptoms – or don't express them to their caregivers.

UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken as the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's, according to NIH, because symptoms include:

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2805
Joined: Jun 2010

My husband had a stroke around 6 years ago and has recovered fully.  Thanks for this information. 


New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

I hope you are feeling already better today.

Thank you for sharing

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

Gentle hugs for you dear Sister --   Thank you for the post ...  so valuable for many of us.


Vicki Sam

carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

thanks for the info, I am glad you recovered and it wasnt a stroke this time. My MIL also has dementia and has exhibited signs of worsening demetia with a UTI

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