Urinary Tract Infection, often abbreviated to UTI, is a common infection seen in the lower and upper regions of the urethra at an acute level and affects the bladder and the kidneys in a chronic state. A urinary tract infection occurs due to the colonization, simply put, bacterial infection in the normally sterile urinary tract. This leads to symptoms leading as painful urination, and bigger issues in progressed states like sepsis, and failure of kidneys.
Urinary tract infections are seen in certain groups of people, and these groups of people are called the “susceptible group”, they include women, immunocompromised patients, and people with anatomical discrepancies.
Prevalence of UTI in Males vs. Females
It is a known fact that women are more susceptible to UTIs than their male counterparts due to the compromised position and anatomy of female urogenital tracts. Immunocompromised patients, women going through menopause, poor personal hygiene, improper care after sexual intercourse, and other underlying urogenital medical conditions are risk factors for getting infected with a UTI.
While UTIs are comparatively less prevalent in the male population, they are considered more serious and may suggest more underlying diseases. This is because the urethra of men is significantly larger and the infection doesn’t usually travel up to become an upper urinary tract infection. If it does, it suggests the person is severely compromised in terms of either immunity or anatomical discrepancies.
Bacterial Entry into the Urinary System
Pathogens can enter into the urinary system in different ways. The urogenital tract is conveniently present near the anus, especially in females. This causes the fecal bacteria to enter the urinary tract due to poor hygiene conditions. Or the bacteria may be opportunistic and act like an infective agent when the patient has a compromised immune system or has underlying unidentified diseases of the urogenital tract.
Unprotected sex and improper aftercare may also lead to bacterial entry into the urinary tract. In women, it is also seen due to repeated usage of menstrual pads or not changing them often as prescribed.
Now, the alternative provided for women to prevent menstruation-related UTIs is to simply switch to non-absorbing products such as menstrual cups or discs. This also reduces the chance of getting septic shock syndromes associated with menstrual hygiene.
The urinary tract remains sterile in most cases due to the action of gushing flush of the urine preventing any bacterial growth, thus water remains essential for preventing UTIs.
Unfortunately, bacteria such as E. coli along with its symbionts, overcome this preventive defense mechanism of our bodies by forming what’s called a “biofilm”. These biofilms adhere to the surface of the urinary tract cells and threaten the body’s health as they travel up via the urethra to the bladder and the kidneys.
Kidneys, like other organs, must be kept in a state with no microorganisms, but due to the infection, they start to fail and render functions. This will lead the body into a state of septic shock due to the lack of blood filtration. Hence, it is a critical infection that must be treated and consulted about.
This causes symptoms of painful urination in cases of lower urethral UTI. Sometimes, when the infection travels further into our systems, it may cause cystitis in the bladder. In many extreme cases of negligence and failure of treatment, we get to observe the infection travel way up to the kidneys and cause septic shock (wherein a body can’t process its toxins out) proceeding immediately after renal/ kidney failure. This can be due to Uti not drinking enough water progressing into cystitis.
Bladder Infections in Pregnancy
This risk factor of acquiring a UTI is much higher in pregnant women than anyone. UTIs during pregnancy are asymptomatic in many cases and that poses a threat to the patient. It is crucial to have Urinary tract infection tests done ever so often to prevent UTI complications during pregnancy.
It is important to be aware of the risks of acquiring a UTI and its connection to water or hydration.
The Relationship Between Water Intake and Urinary Tract Infections
One can’t insist enough on how important water is for our body to function properly. Water doesn’t just play a crucial role in aiding your body’s metabolism, but it is also an elixir of life that flushes out all the toxins in your body. Consider sweat, urine, and even tears, every little mechanism of excretion is primarily dependent on water.
Now, UTIs aren’t necessarily caused due to compromised hydration or not drinking water, it is a common misconception. But, dehydration is one of the enabling causes of the infection.
Dehydration would put the body in a condition wherein the blood isn’t processed enough and there isn’t enough urine for urination as many times as recommended. This would suggest that the bacteria have a better chance of survival in the urinary tract of a person who is dehydrated than that of someone who has proper cycles of urination. Hence, water can be called a preventive medication for UTIs.
How to Know If You’re Dehydrated?
It is not surprising how most people, due to their busy schedules forget to drink water. Another factor affecting water intake is the loss of “feeling thirsty” as people age.
To prevent unintentional dehydration, it is recommended by doctors to at least consume 6 to 7 liters of water per day to optimize your body. Look out for the following signs of dehydration.
Signs of Dehydration
Dehydrated bodies experience symptoms of a vast range like dry mouth, loss of skin elasticity, and constipation in the long run. You might also observe other symptoms like loss of sleep, irritability, and even dizziness in hot weather.
Dehydration can cause a wide range of serious health problems like heart palpitations, recurrent cystitis, bladder infections, urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, interstitial cystitis, kidney infections, low blood pressure, and other urinary symptoms.
Don’t wait for the symptoms to show up before you drink water, instead drink a cup or two every 30 to 45 minutes to maximize your water intake for the day.
How Much Fluid Should You Drink Every Day to Prevent Dehydration/UTI?
Regardless, of whether one’s concerns lie or not with acquiring frequent UTIs, it is recommended by doctors to at least drink 6 to 7 liters of water to optimize your body condition. A minimal amount of water that needs to be consumed to prevent dehydration is 3 liters/day in men and 2.7 liters/day in women.
It helps to drink water every few minutes, say 30 to 45 minutes to keep your body hydrated and ward off UTIs.
How to Tell the Difference Between a UTI and Dehydration?
Dehydration and Urinary tract infections don’t always necessarily occur together, but there is a chance that dehydration has enabled an infection. It is difficult to tell the difference between both of these conditions as they both cause relatively painful micturition, but a few things that set them apart is how UTIs cause cloudy, fishy-smelling micturition. UTIs may also cause symptoms of fever, nausea, and fatigue.
It is important to note that a suspected Urinary tract infection must always be diagnosed by specialists. UTIs must be treated with the usage of prescribed antibiotics while dehydration can simply be treated by consuming more water and increasing fluid intake. However, UTI from not drinking enough water or dehydration is credible.
Dehydration is mainly prevalent in the summers and people fail to drink enough water. Dehydration affects the body’s ability to perform at its full potential. Hence, doctors suggest consuming more juices, if not water, throughout the summer to keep your body cool and optimized for daily tasks.
Can Dehydration or Not Drinking Enough Water Make UTIs Worse?
Everyone with a UTI is advised to drink plenty of water and cranberry juice. Keeping hydrated allows for fluid to enter the bladder and flush out bacteria in the system. Water helps prevent UTIs, and can even aid in their treatment.
So, yes, not drinking enough water makes UTIs Worse.
When to See a Doctor?
Urinary tract infections are definitely what you need to see a doctor immediately. UTIs must receive prescription antibiotics to not only treat the infection but also prevent the travel of infection from the urethra to the bladder and the kidneys.
The doctor’s diagnosis plays a crucial role in determining the location of the infection and any other underlying symptoms and diseases. It is also important to see the doctor in case of recurrent infections and if the symptoms of burning sensation, cloudy urine persists.
It is important to get a complete health diagnosis in case one suffers from recurring UTIs or bladder infections ad they may suggest large issues that maybe not noticed before. Higher-risk groups like pregnant women, women going through menopause, and men with upper urinary tract infections must seek advice from specialists to prevent cystitis and other kidney failure symptoms.
It is important to seek immediate help from the hospital if the UTI progressed to bloody urine or any color changes observed in the urine.
Since UTIs can only be treated using antibiotics, one must seek a prescription from the Urologist for the treatment.
Never consume antibiotics without them being prescribed by the doctors as they may cause an upset in your normal flora and end up making the bacterial infection stronger.
Staying hydrated by increasing fluid intake aids in the preventive cure of reducing urinary tract infections, but contracting a UTI might be unavoidable in certain circumstances, hence looking for the doctors is necessary.
Get Help from an Online Doctor
Making online medical appointments is an excellent way of seeing an expert quickly and easily. Patients can talk about their symptoms or find the correct medical solution to their problems anytime.
It is also much more convenient as the patient can stay in the comfort of their homes while consulting specialists.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Much Water Should You Drink When You Have a UTI?
The first advice a urologist gives to any patient that is suffering from a UTI is to drink as much water as possible throughout the day accompanying the prescribed antibiotics and high fluid intake to increase hydration status. Especially, during the mornings, it is recommended that one drinks plenty of water.
Fluid in all forms must be consumed to aid the flushing of the bacteria with the liquid waste out of your urinary system and body.
Another way to add water to your diet is through sports drinks. However, this isn’t necessarily recommended, especially for older adults with other complications like diabetes.
2. Can Drinking Enough Water Help You Prevent UTIs?
Yes, water is the best preventive medicine our world has got to offer. Water reduces obstructive symptoms in those suffering from UTIs.
Recent studies showed that women who increased their water intake to the ideal range are 50% less likely to develop a urinary tract infection. A lower risk of UTIs has been similarly seen in men who consume more fluids as well. Hence, it is conclusive that the vast majority of people show positive results in staying hydrated and improving hydration.
Ongoing studies are still trying to find out the relationship between hydration and the prevention of various urinary tract infections. But drinking water is a great step one can take to start building up immunity against urinary tract infections or UTIs.
3. Does drinking too little water cause UTI?
Drinking too little water provides an ideal condition for bacteria to attack your urinary system due to the lack of flushing the causative agents of the infections. But, UTIs aren’t directly caused by drinking too little water or less fluid intake but it does put a person at an increased risk. Drinking too little water causes the patient to be susceptible to Urinary tract infections because the urine produced is too low and less frequent to flush out the infective agents.
And that is the reason why one should mind how much water they are consuming for hydration and reducing the risk of UTIs.
4. Can Drinking Enough Water Help You Prevent UTIs?
Water is an essential part of treating a UTI along with antibiotic treatment. Water flushes out the toxins and bacteria that enter your urogenital tract for various reasons.
So, yes, UTI will eventually go away if you drink more water along with your prescribed antibiotics. But, drinking water mostly prevents urinary tract infections (recurrent infections) as does cranberry juice. Not only do the symptoms of UTI subside with increased water consumption, and symptoms of dry mouth, but pelvic pain is also reduced contributing to overall health.
5. Why do I get UTI symptoms when I don’t drink enough water?
Drinking not enough water causes the body to produce less, but concentrated urine, which is painful to pass. This means the body doesn’t have enough water that could be used to flush out all the toxins and wash out the bacteria that might have entered accidentally into the urogenital tract.
Not drinking enough will also cause dehydration symptoms of not painful micturition. Improving hydration, that is daily fluid intake helps older adults who are at higher risk to prevent common UTIs. UTI caused when bacteria enter the bladder has similar symptoms of dehydration in terms of urination.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the onset of a UTI, but you should take it as a sign to consume more fluids and stay hydrated. Good hydration prevents urinary tract infections and UTIs.