Are You Sure Your Loved One Has A UTI?

Monday July 17, 2017
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At Christian Care Health Center, our goal is to provide the best care possible. We believe in working together with our Residents and their families to ensure that we are meeting the needs of their loved one. In this spirit we share new findings about antibiotic resistance and urinary tract infection (UTI).

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Today, there is national and worldwide attention focused on antibiotic resistance and its root cause—unnecessary use of antibiotics. One of the most common reasons for a senior to be given antibiotics is to treat a UTI. Yet studies are showing that many of these UTIs are misdiagnosed—a result of confusion between normal resident bacteria and those causing infection.

There are many bacteria living in and on our bodies that cause no harm. In fact, these bacteria, which outnumber our human cells 10-to-1, are necessary for living, digestion and proper function of our immune systems. Some of these bacteria live naturally in the bladder without causing any pain or symptoms. This is called asymptomatic bacteriuria, which can be present in over half of seniors living in long-term care settings.

In the past when a urine specimen tested positive for bacteria, even when no symptoms were present, doctors were taught to treat this bacteriuria with antibiotics in the hopes of eliminating the cause of any future problems. We now know this is unnecessary and often harmful. Multiple studies show that giving antibiotics in these situations does not prevent UTIs or urinary sepsis. It does not improve bladder control. It does not help memory problems or balance. In fact, treating asymptomatic patients with antibiotics cause complications. In these situations, antibiotics can kill “friendly” bacteria, leading to vaginal yeast overgrowth or severe diarrhea from overgrowth of toxic bacteria in the bowel. The most sinister, unseen complication is the emergence of resistant bacteria. Their resistance is the result of repeated cycles of antibiotic treatment. These resistant bacteria have come to predominate in our world—they are now a global public health emergency that is even more important than AIDS or Ebola virus.

As a family member, you are an important care partner for your loved one. By understanding the risks of using antibiotics when they are not needed, you help us to provide good, safe care. Antibiotics should be used only when a doctor or nurse practitioner is sure that there is an infection. We no longer use antibiotics just-in-case. When it comes to antibiotics, we want you to feel comfortable asking questions.

The safest care happens when the entire team understands and follows the most current recommendations. If you would like more information, please ask one of our nurses for the Christian Care Health Center packet on Antibiotics and UTI.

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