A study led by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has shown that increased water consumption helps reduce the recurrence of urinary tract infections (cystitis) among women.
“While it’s been widely assumed that increased water intake helps to flush out bacteria and reduce the risk of recurrent UTI, there has been no supporting research data showing such a beneficial effect of water,” said Thomas M. Hooton, M.D., lead study author and clinical professor of medicine at the Miller School’s Division of Infectious Diseases. The study was published online on Monday, October 1 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
“This study provides convincing evidence that increased daily intake of water can reduce frequent UTIs,” said Hooton, a top expert on UTIs. “The mechanism is presumably via the flushing effect of increased urine volume, but there may be other effects we are not aware of.”
The study, carried out in Europe, included 140 premenopausal women with highly recurrent UTIs who reported drinking less than 1.5 liters of total fluid daily or about six, 8-ounce glasses. During the 12 months of the trial, half the women were assigned to drink 1.5 liters of water in addition to their regular daily fluid intake, while the others did not change their regular fluid intake.
The study results showed that episodes of cystitis were significantly less frequent in women who drank more water for 12 months. The average number of cystitis episodes was 1.7 for the women who drank more water compared with 3.2 for the women who didn’t. Antimicrobial usage was also significantly reduced in the group that drank more water.
UTIs occur more commonly among women. And, recurring UTIs are defined as having three or more within a year. Participants in this trial had even more frequent recurrences to be eligible for enrollment.
The study did not determine the optimal amount of daily water intake to reduce the risk of UTIs or whether drinking more water is beneficial for women at lower risk for recurrent cystitis.
The authors suggest that drinking more water is a safe and inexpensive alternative strategy to prescribing antimicrobial prophylaxis for these infections.
“This is a trial of the effect of behavioral change on the risk of recurrent UTIs,” said Hooton. “The results are important given the increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance and the critical need for antimicrobial-sparing modalities in the management of infectious diseases.”
The study was funded by Danone Research in Palaiseau, France.
To Learn More: The full study is available on the JAMA Network’s For the Media website.