The urologic infection that a source close to Bill Clinton says led to the former president’s hospitalization is common in older individuals and can be serious, experts say.
But when treated in a timely manner, the prognosis for such cases is excellent.
Clinton, 75, was admitted Tuesday evening to a California hospital, where he received intravenous antibiotics and fluids, his doctors said in a statement, adding that Clinton was responding well to treatment.
Former President Bill Clinton hospitalized with infection
A source close to Clinton told NBC News that his initial diagnosis was a urologic infection that morphed into a broader infection.
While little else was immediately revealed about Clinton’s condition, including whether it originated in his urinary tract or elsewhere in the urinary system, experts who were not involved in his care said such spread of infection can be life-threatening without prompt medical attention.
“This is not uncommon. This is something we frequently treat in the emergency room, where somebody comes in with a urinary tract infection,” NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres said Friday on the “TODAY” show. “Especially as they get older, their body is not able to contain that, so it moves from the urinary tract, from the bladder and the kidneys, into the bloodstream.”
At that point, Torres said, a patient is at risk of sepsis — a dangerous overdrive of the immune system in response to an infection — or septic shock, when organs start to fail.
Doctors must keep a close eye on these patients to make sure the strong antibiotics they are treating them with are lowering their white blood cell counts, which would indicate the infection is getting under control, said Dr. Ash Tewari, a urologist and prostate cancer specialist at Mount Sinai in New York.
Doctors will also work to identify any underlying conditions that may have led to the infection in the first place: a blockage, a kidney stone, even diabetes, Tewari said. Sometimes, procedures are necessary to prevent future recurrences.
While urinary tract infections are common in young women, in young men, they are exceptionally rare. Later in life, men become more prone to them, the experts said, because the likelihood of developing an enlarged prostate increases with age — and that can interfere with the bladder’s ability to fully empty.
“If you have difficulty with urinary symptoms with voiding, that can put you at increased