Recurrent Cystitis? Drink More Water
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Thursday, October 26, 2017 07:13 AM

A few extra glasses of water a day could cut the risk of urinary tract infections for women plagued with recurrent episodes. In a randomized trial, drinking about three extra pints of water a day cut the risk of uncomplicated acute cystitis (AUC) by about half.  The extra water was also associated with fewer courses of antibiotics during the year-long study.

The finding is not really a surprise. Doctors have long been telling women to drink more water to prevent or help treat recurring AUC.  The idea makes sense, he said, because the conventional wisdom has been that disease-causing bacteria make their way from the vagina up the urethra to the bladder. Frequent flushing with urine can prevent the bacteria from sticking to bladder cells, growing, and causing disease.

There had been no real study of the issue. To obtain that data, researchers enrolled 140 premenopausal women whose self-reported fluid intake was low — less than 1.5 liters of total fluid a day -- and who had had at least three episodes of AUC in the previous year.

The key finding was that the average number of recurrent AUC episodes in the water group over the year was 1.6, compared with 3.1 among the control women. As might be expected, the average number of antimicrobial regimens used to treat AUC was 1.8 in the water group and 3.5 in the control group, which was again significant. As well the average number of days to first AUC after the start of the study and the mean number of days between episodes was longer for those in the water group.

The findings are important because many women suffer recurrent AUC and most are treated with antibiotics.  This study “may be a game-changer” in the way antibiotics are used.

The usual advice doctors give women to keep hydrated often comes when they are already in the throes of an infection -- advice often given along with a prescription for antibiotics. The point of the study is that increased water intake appears to prevent the infections in the first place — and therefore the need for scripts.