By Lisa Rapaport
(Reuters Health) – Women who drink extra water to prevent urinary tract infections (urinary tract infections) may be on something. A new experiment provides new evidence that urinary tract infections occur less frequently by drinking more water per day.
For the study, researchers focused on 140 women with recurrent UTIs who normally drank less than 1.5 liters of fluid (about six 8-ounce glasses) per day. For twelve months, the researchers asked half of these women to continue their usual hydration, and the other half asked to drink another 1.5 liters of water daily.
Over the course of the year, women who drank more water had an average of 1.7 urinary tract infections compared to 3.2 on average for women who did not add extra water to their diet, the experiment found.
"The data strongly suggests that the hydration status is associated with a UTI risk," Dr. Thomas M. Hooton, lead author of the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.
"If a woman has recurrent UTIs, she should consider her daily hydration and try to increase her to at least two to three liters a day," Hooton said via email.
About half of the women will eventually contract urinary tract infections, researchers in JAMA Internal Medicine say. As soon as women have this first UTI, 27 percent of them will have another within six months, and 44 percent to 70 percent will have another UTI within a year.
Women have long been advised that hydrating can minimize the risk of these infections. But so far, researchers have found no conclusive evidence that drinking more water can prevent UTIs, the authors note.
The women in the current study were generally healthy, but had at least three urinary tract infections last year, including at least one infection confirmed by a urine-based doctor. All participants said they drink less than 1.5 liters of fluid daily.
Among the women who were supposed to increase their water intake, by the end of the study participants drank an average of 1.7 liters more fluid daily than at the beginning. Women in the control group, who were not asked to boost water consumption, did not experience significant changes in fluid intake during the study.
One limitation of the study is that it was performed in a single location, which made it possible for the results to be different for patients elsewhere, the authors note.
The findings for these high-risk women with recurrent urinary tract infections may also differ from what would happen to women at lower risk for urinary tract infections Deborah Grady, author of an accompanying editorial and professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.
It's also difficult to give women a precise amount of water to prevent UTIs, Grady said via email.
"The theory is that more water leads to more urine output, flushing out bacteria in the bladder and preventing infection," Grady said. "More water is usually not harmful, but it can make you urinate frequently and you have to get up at night to urinate."
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2Nhb6xg JAMA Internal Medicine, online October 1, 2018.