Urinary tract infections (UTI) are a pesky problem for many women, but it seems that one of the best ways to prevent a UTI is simple: Drink more water. While this might not come as a surprise, researchers have finally confirmed that this method is an effective way to ward off recurring infections — possibly even cutting their frequency in half.
Thomas Hooten, MD, and his team of researchers looked at whether increasing a woman's daily water intake affected the number of UTIs she had. Their study tracked 140 premenopausal women who had at least three UTIs in the last year and reported low daily water-intake levels. Half of the women — the control group — were told to continue their usual water intake habits, while the second group was asked to increase their daily water intake by 1.5 liters — about six cups of water.
After following up with these women throughout the year, researchers found that women who were in the control group had 3.1 UTIs on average. However, women in the second group reduced their average number of UTIs to 1.6. That's a 48 percent reduction! By reducing their average number of UTIs, women in the second group also decreased their need for an antibiotic regimen. In the long run, this reduction in antibiotic use can help ward off antibiotic resistance.
According to Dr. Hooten, the women in the second group raised their daily total water intake to about 2.8 liters — or about 12 cups per day. While that number might seem a little daunting, if you carry around a cute water bottle, you might be surprised how often you drink from it. You can also purchase flavor packets if you really can't stand the taste of just water.
"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," Hooton said.
The National Institutes of Health report that upwards of 50 percent of women will get a UTI at least once during their lifetime., and one in four will deal with repeat infections, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says. And with more than 10 million doctor visits being the result of a UTI, it could be said that 12 glasses a day keeps the doctor away.
h/t Science Daily