Warding Off a UTI

What can we do to ward off a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?  Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer for Live Science published an article weighing the effects of drinking an extra six glasses of water a day to accomplish this.

The study found that of the women who frequently get UTIs they could cut their risk in half if they consumed six additional 8 ounce glasses of water a day, compared to women who don’t increase their water intake.  The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

It has long time been assumed that increasing the water intake could lower the risk of UTIs and it has been often recommended that women heed this advice.  The recommendation had not been rigorously studied, though, until now.

Dr. Thomas Hooton, lead author of the study and clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami School of Medicine said there are lots of things recommended for this condition, but none have really been studied before.  Drinking water is an easy and safe way to prevent this very uncomfortable and annoying infection.

About 60% of women will develop a UTI in their lifetime and 25% will have more than one.  Men are not as prone to UTIs as women as the urethra in women is shorter and easier for bacteria to travel from the rectum and vagina to the bladder.  The study involved 140 healthy women under the age of 45 who had experienced at least three UTIs in the past year and typically drank fewer than six 9-ounce glasses of fluids a day.  Half were told to drink an extra six 8 ounces of water while the other half didn’t make changes at all in their water consumption.

A year later the women who had increased the water intake had about 1.5 UTIs over the course of the study, compared with 3 UTIs for the women who didn’t increase their intake of water.  Most of the UTIs were caused by Escherichia coli.  The women in the water group were drinking about 11 glasses of water a day compared with five glasses in the other group.

Dr. Deborah Grady, deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine wrote an editorial accompanying the study saying it confirms that “folk” wisdom.  Drinking more fluids increases the rate at which bacteria are flushed from the bladder and likely reduces the concentration of bacteria that enter the bladder from the vagina.  Therefore, there are fewer opportunities for bacteria to attach to cells lining the urinary tract.

Of course those women in the water group took less antibiotics of about two courses compared with 3.5 courses in the group that didn’t increase their water intake.  By reducing the use of antibiotics it also helps to lower the risk of antibiotic resistance.

Danone Research, a bottled water provider, funded the study as well as providing the bottled water.  Any clear and safe-to-drink water will do, including a good local tap water.

Dr Fredda Branyon