New study suggests a clear solution to urinary tract infections

More than half of all women will experience a UTI or urinary tract infection. The usual course of action to treat it is to prescribe antibiotics, but new research is showing that something else might be helpful in preventing future infections.

Millions of Americans, mostly women, deal with symptoms of frequent urination that cause burning and discomfort.

OB-GYN Dr. Paniz Heidari with Dignity Health Northridge Medical Center said UTIs occur when harmful bacteria sticks to the walls of the tube that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. If let untreated, the infection can get much worse.

"You can develop an infection of the kidney and you may need to be hospitalized," Heidari said.

Urinary tract infections are generally treated with different forms of antibiotics, but lately, Heidari has been seeing more patients who don't respond to certain medications. "I'm getting a lot more lab reports telling me there's a lot more resistance," she said.

Now, researchers say the solution may be clear. Doctors have always told patients to drink more water. A new report offers science to back that advice.

In a study of 140 women with recurrent urinary tract infections, University of Miami School of Medicine researchers found those who drank a liter and a half of water in addition to their daily intake had about 46 percent fewer UTI symptoms during the course of a year than those who didn't drink additional water.

"As we drink more water we can pee more and so we can flush the bacteria that sticks to the side of the ureter to help clear infections," Heidari said. But when you need to be treated with antibiotics, Heidari said these medications should be used judiciously with antibiotic stewardship.

Cranberry juice is often recommended because experts believe it keeps harmful bacteria from binding to the urinary tract.

Stanford researchers are working on medication that can do that more effectively.
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