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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

658408466Sometimes we get to go back to basics and simple lifestyle changes, that can then make a big difference. This study in premenopausal women prone to urinary tract infections demonstrates the point.

Researchers assessed 140 premenopausal women who had at last 3 urinary tract infections in the previous year, and who reported a daily fluid intake of less than 1.5 liters (about 6.25 cups) of water per day.

The 70 women in the treatment group were instructed to drink an additional 1.5 liters of water each day, and the 70 in the control group were instructed not to change their typical intake.

Over the course of the 1-year study, the average daily increase was 1.15 liters (about 4.8 cups) in the treatment group, for a daily total of 2.8 liters (12 cups). The average daily intake was 1.2 liters (5 cups) in the control group. After one year, there were 48% fewer urinary tract infections in the treatment group than in the control group. In addition to that, the number of days from the last infection to the first recurrent infection of acute uncomplicated cystitis was 55 days longer in the intervention group than in the control group (148 vs. 93). The average number of days between episodes (143 vs. 85) was also better in the treatment group.

With fewer infections, this also led to 47% fewer courses of antibiotics in the intervention group than in the control group (1.8 vs. 3.5).

Commentary: Approximately 60% of women will develop a urinary tract infection in their lifetime, and one in four will have a repeat infection. Urinary tract infections lead to more than 10 million doctor visits a year, and more antibiotics.

While this simple approach will not work for everyone, it is an important strategy to at least incorporate. One caution is for women with an overactive bladder, this increased fluid intake could worsen the urgency to urinate and increase urinary incontinence.

Why does increased water intake work?? What we think is that this increases frequency of flushing bacteria from the urinary tract, which means the bacteria don’t have time to attach to the bladder wall and thus the overall concentration of bacteria is reduced. I would also predict that these same results would be acquired in postmenopausal women.


Thomas M. Hooten et al.,” Women who get frequent UTIs may reduce risk by drinking plenty of water.” Presentation at Infectious Disease Society of America, IDWeek 2017, San Diego, CA, October 5, 2017.

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