Drinking plenty of water can help keep UTIs at bay.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect any part of the urinary tract, including the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys.
A bladder infection is the most common type of UTI.
Approximately half of all women will experience a UTI in their lifetime.
For those who experience this type of infection once, a solid 25 percent can expect to have another later on in life.
Women are likelier to develop a bladder infection than men due to differing anatomy — the female urethra is shorter than that of men, which means that bacteria can reach the bladder more easily.
Also, the urethra opening is closer to the rectum in women, and the rectum houses lots of bacteria. These bacteria are most commonly associated with UTIs.
Bladder infections, when caught early, don’t usually cause serious complications, and they are easily treated with antibiotics.
If not treated, however, they can lead to kidney infections. Symptoms of bladder infections include a burning feeling while passing urine and frequent or intense urges to go to the bathroom, even if there is not a lot of urine to pass.
The new research, which was led by senior study author Dr. Yair Lotan, from the Simmons Cancer Center at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, is now published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Studying water intake and bladder infections
Prior to the study, the participants reported their usual daily volume of fluid. This was approximately 1.5 liters, or around six 8-ounce glasses.
The scientists divided the volunteers into two groups: they instructed one to drink an additional 1.5 liters of water each day, and they told the other group to consume no additional fluid.
Their study was conducted over a 12-month period and revealed quite a few findings. For example, in the additional water group, the scientists found that 93 percent had two (or fewer) episodes of bladder infection, while 88 percent of those in the control group experienced three or more.
Overall, bladder infection incidence in the water group was around half of that in the control group — namely, 111 of the people who drank the extra water reported having had one, compared with 216 people who did not drink the extra water.
Also, if there was a recurrence of a bladder infection in a participant who had already experienced one during the study, those in the water group had a greater period of time pass between infections than did those in the control group.
The overall time period between bladder infections was about 85.2 days for the control group, compared with 142.9 days for those in the water group.
Overall, those in the water group were about half as likely to experience a bladder infection than those in the control group. “That’s a significant difference,” noted Dr. Lotan, the chief of urologic oncology at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“These findings are important because more than half of all women report having bladder infections, which are one of the most common infections in women.”
Dr. Yair Lotan
It has been known for some time that drinking plenty of water can prevent bladder infections and other UTIs because it helps flush out bacteria trying to make their way to the bladder.
This study has helped confirm that notion, and while drinking lots of water can be a hard habit to get into, it is definitely a good idea — especially for women.