The Short answer:
Dehydration (usually due to insufficient water) can increase your risk of getting UTI. Dehydration leads to concentrated urine, enabling bacteria to multiply more easily. Drinking enough water flushes bacteria from the urinary system and dilutes urine, reducing infection risk.
- Dehydration increases UTI risk by promoting bacteria growth.
- Concentrated urine due to dehydration may cause
- Drinking water maintains a healthy urinary tract and reduces UTI risk.
- Diluted urine prevents bacterial growth, and frequent urination flushes bacteria, reducing the risk of infection.
- Increased water intake leads to fewer UTI episodes and longer intervals between episodes.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily, adjust intake based on activity level, pay attention to thirst signals, monitor urine color, and consider other fluids as well.
- Preventing recurrent UTIs involves good hygiene, healthy habits, and following healthcare provider recommendations.
- Recurrent UTI risk factors include habits, urinary tract conditions in postmenopausal women, genetics, or biology.
Can You get UTI from dehydration?
A lack of sufficient water intake can indeed contribute to an increased likelihood of developing a UTI.
Experiencing dehydration leads to more concentrated urine and reduced urination frequency, resulting in a hospitable environment for bacteria to grow and multiply.
Also, dehydration may cause bladder irritation (due to high concentrations of irritant waste products in urine). As a result, urination may become painful due to dehydration without having a UTI.
Furthermore, when you don’t urinate as often, bacteria can linger within the urinary tract, heightening the probability of infection.
To safeguard yourself against UTIs, it’s essential to prioritize hydration. Consuming an adequate amount of water not only ensures that your urine remains diluted but also promotes regular urination. Doing so, you help maintain a healthy urinary tract and effectively mitigates the risk of UTIs.
Why staying hydrated is essential for preventing UTIs
To prevent UTIs, you must stay hydrated, as this ensures your urine remains diluted and encourages you to urinate more frequently. Diluted urine hinders bacterial growth, while urinating often flushes out bacteria and potential irritants from your urinary tract. These actions together minimize the likelihood of bacteria adhering to the urinary tract lining, reducing the risk of infection.
Here is a summary of the pros of drinking enough water on your urinary tract health:
Hydration and Urinary Function
- Proper hydration is essential for optimal functioning of the urinary system.
- Sufficient water intake ensures waste and bacteria are flushed out regularly.
Benefits of Water for UTI Prevention
Dilution of Urine
- Drinking water dilutes urine, making it less concentrated.
- Concentrated urine can create an environment where bacteria thrive.
- Diluted urine reduces irritation to the urinary tract lining.
Encouraging Frequent Urination
- Staying hydrated promotes frequent urination.
- Frequent urination flushes out bacteria and potential irritants.
- Emptying the bladder often minimizes the time bacteria have to adhere to the urinary tract lining.
The most important scientific evidence about dehydration and the risk of UTI:
A 2018 study (randomized controlled trial) looked into the effects of increased water intake on recurrent cystitis, a type of urinary tract infection (UTI). The study involved 140 premenopausal women who had experienced recurrent cystitis (at least three episodes in the past year) and had low daily fluid intake.
The participants were divided into two groups.
- One group was asked to drink an additional 1.5 liters of water daily, in addition to their usual fluid intake,
- while the other group did not change their fluid intake.
The study was conducted over 12 months, and the researchers looked at the frequency of recurrent cystitis, the number of antimicrobial treatments used, and the time interval between cystitis episodes.
Here’s a summary of the results in a table:
|Outcome||Water Group||Control Group (not drinking enough water)|
|Cystitis (UTII) episodes (mean/12 months)||1.7||3.2|
|Antibiotic use (mean)||1.9||3.6|
|Time between episodes (mean, days)||142.8||84.4|
The results showed that the group that increased their water intake experienced:
- fewer cystitis episodes,
- used fewer antimicrobial treatments,
- and had longer intervals between episodes compared to the control group.
Based on these findings, I recommend increasing your daily water intake, especially if you have a history of recurrent cystitis.
Not drinking enough water can help reduce the risk of UTIs and increase the need for antimicrobial treatments.
How much water should you drink to decrease UTI risk?
To protect yourself from I recommend the following guidelines for water intake to help decrease the risk of recurrent UTIs:
- Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water daily (about 2-2.5 liters). This amount helps flush out bacteria from your urinary system and dilutes your urine.
- Adjust your intake based on your activity level, climate, and overall health. If you’re physically active, live in a hot climate, or are pregnant, you may need to drink more water.
- Pay attention to your body’s thirst signals. Drinking water when you feel thirsty is crucial to staying properly hydrated.
- Monitor the color of your urine. A pale yellow indicates adequate hydration, whereas a darker yellow may suggest that you drink more water.
- Remember that other fluids, such as herbal tea and juice, can also contribute to your daily water intake.
Maintaining proper hydration is just one aspect of preventing recurrent UTIs. It’s also important to practice good hygiene, adopt healthy lifestyle habits, and follow any additional recommendations provided by your healthcare provider.
Some practical tips to habitually drink enough water:
To help you drink at least 3 liters of water every day, consider the following practical tips:
- Start your day with water: Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to kick-start your daily intake.
- Use a water bottle with measurements: Choose a reusable water bottle that measures volume (e.g., 1 liter) and set a goal to refill it a certain number of times per day.
- Set reminders: Use your phone, a smartwatch, or an app to set reminders to drink water regularly throughout the day.
- Flavor your water: Add a slice of lemon, cucumber, or a splash of fruit juice to your water to make it more enjoyable to drink.
- Make it a habit: Associate drinking water with daily activities, such as before or after meals, during breaks at work, or after using the restroom.
- Keep water visible and accessible: Place a glass of water or water bottle on your desk, nightstand, or any other place where you spend time, acting as a visual reminder to drink.
- Drink herbal tea: Swap out some regular beverages with herbal tea (caffeine-free) to increase your water intake while also enjoying a warm, soothing drink.
- Eat water-rich foods: Incorporate fruits and vegetables with high water content into your diet (e.g., watermelon, cucumber, oranges, and strawberries) to help you reach your hydration goal.
- Track your intake: Use a water tracking app or a simple note on your phone to record your daily water intake and ensure you’re meeting your 3-liter goal.
Other Risk factors for getting recurrent UTI (especially in women):
Dehydration is not the only cause of getting UTI. To protect yourself, you should be aware of all the various risk factors that may lead to recurrent UTIs.
Here is a summary of the risk factors for recurrent UTIs (reference):
- Habits (behavioral risk factors):
- More frequent intercourse.
- Using diaphragm birth control with spermicides (spermicide-coated diaphragms)
- Using condoms with spermicides
- Having a new sexual partner in the past year
- Getting a UTI before turning 15
- Having a mother who had UTIs
- Urinary tract conditions (in women after menopause):
- Urinary incontinence
- Having a bladder prolapse (cystocele)
- Not fully emptying the bladder after urinating
- Genetics or biology:
- Being more likely to have UTI-causing vaginal bacteria.
- UTI-causing germs easily stick to urinary tract cells.
- Lacking certain blood group substances (nonsecretor phenotype)
- Special receptors on urinary tract cells that bind UTI-causing germs (in nonsecretors)
FAQs About Dehydration and UTIs
Why does it hurt to pee when you are dehydrated?
When you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t have as much water to expel in the form of urine. The kidneys work to conserve water, leading to the production of a smaller volume of urine that is more concentrated. This concentration increases the amount of waste products in your urine, such as urea, which can irritate the lining of the urinary tract and bladder, causing discomfort or pain during urination. Moreover, insufficient water can disrupt the body’s natural defense mechanisms that flush out bacteria, potentially leading to UTIs that further exacerbate the discomfort.
Can dehydration aggravate symptoms in patients with Interstitial Cystitis?
Yes, dehydration can worsen symptoms in individuals with interstitial cystitis (IC). IC, also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition characterized by bladder pressure, bladder pain, and sometimes pelvic pain. Proper hydration is crucial for patients with IC as concentrated, acidic urine can irritate the bladder lining, exacerbating the pain and discomfort associated with this condition. Consequently, maintaining adequate hydration can help dilute the urine, potentially reducing irritation and alleviating some of the symptoms of IC.
How does dehydration affect urine?
Dehydration significantly impacts urine production and composition. When your body lacks sufficient water, the kidneys, which filter waste products from the blood into urine, aim to retain as much water as possible. This leads to the production of less urine that is typically darker in color and more concentrated.
The increased concentration means there’s a higher ratio of waste products, like urea and uric acid, which can give urine a strong odor. In addition, the urine’s acidity can increase, which may irritate the bladder and urinary tract. More concentrated urine can also encourage the growth and multiplication of bacteria, increasing the risk of UTIs. Thus, staying properly hydrated is essential for maintaining a healthy urinary system.