The Death of Tanya Roberts Highlights Why Boomer Women Need To Be Especially Proactive About UTIs
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
There was some major confusion regarding the death of actress Tanya Roberts, who was widely known for being a Charlie’s Angel and Bond Girl. Several media outlets initially reported that Roberts had died when in fact she was still alive. For example, according to this report, she was mistakenly reported dead after being hospitalized due to suffering from a fall at her home.
Unfortunately, the 65-year-old actress did recently pass, and the cause of death may come as a shock to you as it did to me. She died from complications relating to a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Her representative, Mike Pingel, said in one report that her cause of death “was from a urinary tract infection which spread to her kidney, gallbladder, liver and then blood stream."
It appears that she ultimately died of sepsis, more specifically urosepsis (which is sepsis caused by a UTI).
I’m shocked by this news, because UTIs are very common (especially in women) and usually harmless. These infections occur when certain bacteria enter the urinary tract.
(The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. These organs remove waste and excess water from the body).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UTIs are usually caused by bacteria from the skin or rectum that enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract.
“The infections can affect several parts of the urinary tract, but the most common type is a bladder infection (cystitis),” reports the CDC.
“Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is another type of UTI. They’re less common, but more serious than bladder infections.”
Infection of the bladder and urethra are sometimes referred to as lower tract infections, and infection of the kidneys may be called an upper tract infection.
“Upper tract infections often occur because bacteria have traveled upward in the urinary tract from the bladder to the kidney or because bacteria carried in the bloodstream have collected in the kidney,” reports Harvard Medical School.
If not treated early with antibiotics, UTIs can spread and lead to a life-threatening situation. I cannot definitively say what happened to Tanya Roberts and why her infection spread, but let’s further examine UTIs and how we can be proactive.
Why are UTIs more common in women?
Women’s urethras are shorter and more closely located to the rectum. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract. Reportedly, more than half of women will have at least one UTI during her lifetime. In addition to this, about four in 10 women who get a UTI will get at least one more within a six month period.
This isn't to say that men do not get UTIs.
“Of those that occur in men, relatively few affect younger men. In men older than 50, the prostate gland (a gland near the bottom of the bladder, close to the urethra) can enlarge and block the flow of urine from the bladder,” reports Harvard.
If the bladder cannot do its full job of emptying itself of urine, this could lead to the build up of bacteria and an infection. It is still possible for younger men to get UTIs, especially if they are sexually active (bacteria can be spread through sexual contact) or participate in activities that may cause inflammation of the prostate. Men who are intense cyclists sometimes get UTIs due to the pressure from beating seated on a bike seat for a prolonged period of time. This can sometimes be avoided by wearing padded shorts, urinating often and standing up on the bike in order to alleviate some of the pressure.
There are other factors that may increase your risk of getting a UTI. Some of these include:
- Being pregnant. Hormones from pregnancy may change the bacteria in the urinary tract and increase the risk of infection. Some pregnant women may also have a tough time completely emptying their bladder.
- Having diabetes. Nerve damage that can result from having diabetes may make it difficult for the bladder to empty. Having diabetes also may compromise the immune system, making it more difficult to prevent infections and fight them off.
- Recently having a catheter put in place. This device drains urine when you are unable to urinate on your own.
- Having gone through menopause. When a woman goes through menopause, a loss of estrogen occurs. The loss of this hormone may cause vaginal dryness which can promote a more friendly environment for harmful bacteria to grow.
What we can conclude from all of this is that Boomer women especially need to be proactive about UTIs.
Boomer women like myself and Tanya Roberts, are more susceptible to UTIs. My concern is that we get treated immediately if we have a UTI. This starts with knowing the symptoms of having a UTI which may include:
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Fever, tiredness or shakiness
- An urge to urinate often
- Pressure in the lower abdomen
- Foul smelling urine or urine that looks cloudy or red in color
- Back pain or pain in your side below the ribs
If you suspect you have a UTI, seek medical attention as soon as possible. A competent healthcare professional needs to determine the best antibiotic to treat the infection.
Prevention really is better than cure.
There are ways to help prevent UTIs. One simple way is to drink plenty of water. For specific details on what else you can do to help prevent UTIs and to learn about a mineral that may help with treatment, check out this older pH Labs blog.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.