“While doctors have long assumed this is the case and often recommended that women at risk for UTIs increase their fluid intake, it’s never really undergone a prospective trial before,” Thomas M. Hooton, lead author of the study, said.
Researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine observed 140 healthy pre-menopausal women who experienced UTIs in the previous year for at least three times and disclosed small everyday liquid consumption. They focused on women because they are more at risk to get UTIs than men. The urethra of women is shorter, thus bacteria can travel easier to the bladder from the rectum and vagina.
The participants were divided into two groups — the control and water group. Half of them were told to maintain their everyday liquid consumption, while the other half were asked to drink 1.5 liters or three 16-ounce glasses a day in addition to their usual daily water intake. They did this for a year, while the researchers monitored them through visits and telephone calls.
Results showed that women who drank more water were less likely to experience a UTI, with a 48 percent decline or an average rate of being diagnosed with 1.6 UTIs per year, compared to the 3.1 UTIs of those in the control group. In addition, results revealed that the water group had lesser antibiotics intake, an average of 1.8, than the other group with 3.5. It was a 47 percent drop that also helped to reduce their risk of antibiotic resistance.
The researchers noted that throughout the study, women in the water group drank 2.5 pints or about 1.2 liters more water everyday for a total everyday liquid consumption, which includes water and other drinks, of 2.8 liters. On the other hand, the amount of water the women in the control group drank the same amount daily with a total daily liquid consumption of 1.2 liters.
“It’s good to know the recommendation is valid, and that drinking water is an easy and safe way to prevent an uncomfortable and annoying infection,” Hooton said. “If a woman has recurrent UTIs and is looking for a way to reduce her risk, the evidence suggests that if she increases the amount of water she drinks and stays with it, she’ll likely benefit.”
More bacteria from the bladder will be flushed if greater amounts of water is drunk. In addition, this decreases the concentration of bacteria that enter the bladder from the vagina. As a result, bacteria have less chance to attach to cells that line the urinary tract and prevent infection.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), no less than 40 to 60 percent of women develop a UTI during their lifetime, and most of these infections are infections in the bladder. Moreover, one in four women is likely to have a recurring infection.
Researchers continue to find ways on how to treat or prevent bladder infections naturally and without taking antibiotics. Other preventive options recommended by the NIDDK include urinating often to flush away bacteria, wearing loose-fitting clothes so the air can keep the area around the urethra dry, and changing birth control methods if you have recurring bladder infections. (Related: Antibiotics for UTI infections: Here’s what works without resorting to dangerous drugs.)