Have you ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI)? The symptoms are unpleasant, to put it mildly. First, you may feel a tremendous urge to pee. And when you do urinate, the burning sensation can be unbearable. So, there you are. You have to keep running to the bathroom and each time you dread the burn. Sometimes there is pelvic pain along with the burning. And when you see pink or red urine you know you are bleeding. Get thee to a physician promptly! And if you have fever and chills, make that double fast. Once you have had one UTI there is a good chance you will end up with recurrent urinary tract infections.
Overcoming Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections:
Recurrent urinary tract infections cause a tremendous amount of pain and frustration. Within the first year of an infection as many as 70% of women will have another one. Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat these UTIs. As a result, some women may end up taking several courses of antibiotics each year.
That many antibiotics can have unforeseen consequences. The ecology of the digestive tract can be upset. Getting the microbiome back in balance can be challenging, especially if you have to take more antibiotics within a few months. Then there is the whole problem of antibiotic resistance. Anything that women can do to prevent infections would be good for them and for the environment.
Water for Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections:
Now, a study shows that a simple lifestyle change can make an important difference in the number of infections a woman might experience (JAMA Internal Medicine, online, Oct. 1, 2018) The participants in this study were women who had recurrent urinary tract infections and who normally drank less than six glasses of water daily.
The investigators randomly chose half of the women to continue with their usual water-drinking habits. The other half were asked to double the amount of water they drank.
During the next year, those who increased their water consumption had, on average, 1.7 urinary tract infections. Those who had not increased their water intake had 3.2 infections on average.
The authors of this study offer this convincing observation:
“This study is the first randomized clinical trial to evaluate increased hydration for prevention of recurrent cystitis in women. We demonstrated that increasing daily water intake over a 12-month period resulted in an approximately 50% reduction in frequency of cystitis recurrences and a similar reduction in use of antimicrobial regimens… the beneficial effects observed using water, which is safe, inexpensive, and does not select for antimicrobial resistance, are substantial and important.”
Women who are able to drink two or three liters of water daily may have less trouble with recurrent UTIs and should therefore need fewer antibiotics.