Drinking an extra 1.5L of water daily can halve your risk of recurring UTIs. [Photo: Bigstock]

Recurring cystitis? Drink more water

11 October, 2017

Drinking a few extra glasses of water a day could cut the risk of urinary tract infections for women plagued with recurrent episodes.

The finding is not really a surprise, doctors have long been telling women to drink more water to prevent or help treat recurring uncomplicated acute cystitis (AUC).

What is new is the ‘stamp of approval’ from the scientific community.

Commenting on the results of the study, lead researcher Dr Thomas Hooton from of the University of Miami, School of Medicine noted that the simple solution of drinking water made sense because the conventional wisdom is that disease-causing bacteria make their way from the vagina up the urethra to the bladder. Frequent flushing with urine can prevent the bacteria from sticking to bladder cells, growing, and causing disease.

What’s been missing, he says is some testing of that conventional wisdom.

To do that he and his colleagues enrolled 140 premenopausal women whose self-reported fluid intake was low – less than 1.5 litres (L) of total fluid a day – and who had had at least three episodes of AUC in the previous year.

A simple solution

What you need to know

» Conventional wisdom suggests that drinking more water each day can prevent recurrent cystitis by keeping bacteria from ‘sticking’ to the bladder wall.

» A new trial in the US has shown that this wisdom is correct.

» Women who previously drunk too little water found they could cut recurring cystitis episodes by more than half by upping their water intake by 1.5 litres daily.

The women were randomly assigned to either increase their water intake by 1.5 L a day or to make no change in their habits. Women in the intervention group were given 500 mL bottles of water and urged to begin drinking one at the start of each meal and to finish it before the next meal.

Follow up with the participants over a year included monthly telephone calls and regular clinic visits where there urine was tested.

Over the study period, results showed that the 70 women encouraged to drink more water:

  • Increased their water intake significantly compared with the control group — an increase of 1.15 L on average versus an average drop of 0.01 L
  • Raised their average total fluid intake by 1.65 L versus 0.03 L among the control group
  • Upped average urine volume and number of urine voids significantly – 1.40 L versus 0.04 L and 2.2 a day versus a decrease of 0.2, respectively

Fewer infections, fewer antibiotics

But the key finding, was that the average number of recurrent AUC episodes in the water group over the year was 1.6, compared with 3.1 among the control women – a more than 50% decline.

The women in the water group also took significantly less medication.

“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,” Dr. Hooton said.

The findings are important because many women suffer recurrent AUC and most are treated with antibiotics – confirming a common sense solution in this way could be a game changer in terms of preventing recurring infections and an important way to help reduce antibiotics use.