Tell Your Doctor: ‘Stop With the Urine Tests’

In All Health Watch, Featured Article, Health Warning by Garry Messick0 Comments

You know the annual checkup routine: Step on the scale… Get your blood pressure taken… Get your blood drawn… Urinate into a cup.

It’s time to tell your doctor you don’t want that last thing. 

Doctors typically give urine tests to seniors to test for urinary tract infections (UTIs). And many older folks test positive even when they are not sick. Doctors typically give them antibiotics anyway.  

A recent study in 46 Michigan hospitals found that, of 2,733 seniors who tested positive for UTI bacteria, almost 83% received a full course of antibiotics even though they had no symptoms.[1]

The United States Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of experts. They review medical evidence and provide guidance on screenings and prevention.

The task force found that, aside from pregnant women, there’s no benefit in treating people for UTI bacteria that aren’t causing illness.  

Treatment can be harmful. Especially to older folks.

The study found that hospital patients treated for asymptomatic UTI bacteria didn’t do any better than patients who weren’t treated. In fact, they had to stay in the hospital a day longer on average.

3 Major Health Problems Caused by Antibiotics

Antibiotics:

  1. Cause side effects. They include allergic reactions, intestinal problems, impaired kidney function, fungal infections, and tendon injuries. And they can interact with common medications…heart drugs and antidepressants included.
  • Promote C. difficile. This is a dangerous gut bacterium that causes colitis (inflammation of the colon) and persistent diarrhea. Antibiotics kill protective bacteria, allowing C. diff to thrive. C. diff sickens half a million Americans a year, killing 15,000 of them.[2]
  • Breed superbugs. Overprescribing antibiotics has led to resistant bacteria that are hard if not impossible to treat. Some of these bacteria are life-threatening.

A recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association called for an end to routine urine tests. We agree.[3] 

If your doctor wants to give you a urine test. Ask why. If he or she says it’s to check for a urinary tract infection and you don’t have any symptoms, decline the test. Bring along this article to help explain why. 

Doctors should run tests for a good reason, not because it’s simply the routine thing to do…especially when the resulting treatment could harm rather than help you.

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[1]https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2748454

[2]https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/health/urine-tests-elderly.html

[3]https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2751822

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