The Link Between Dehydration and UTIs
We have been hearing it non-stop for years: drink more water! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already realize that you should be upping your H2O a bit. But I’m here to give you yet another reason why hydration is so important: urinary tract infections.
There are actually many reasons why you could get a UTI. Maybe you don’t go to the bathroom right after you have sex. Maybe you have a kidney stone blocking the flow of urine. But maybe – you’re just dehydrated.
I’m here to show you the link to dehydration and UTI's. And then let you know what you can do about. (Good news: it’s something you can play a huge hand in preventing!)
Why Dehydration Leads To UTIs
We already know that the water we drink is directly connected to our urinary systems because water is a major factor in urine production.
As part of that urinary system, our bladders are essentially little waiting containers for our urine to collect until we use the bathroom. So when bacteria enters the bladder from the urethra, it just sits there until nature calls. This means the bacteria is at the perfect spot to multiply and infect your bladder walls, leaving you with a UTI.
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But the body has a clever way to help combat the problem – the urine itself.
Each time you use the bathroom, you are essentially flushing out not only the urine, but also bacteria that’s just been chilling out in your bladder. But that only works if you:
- Have enough urine
- Go frequently
So when you are dehydrated, what happens? You don’t need to go to the bathroom as often. The small amounts of concentrated urine sit there… and so does any bacteria.
While this is not a surefire 100% chance you’ll get a UTI, it is definitely a factor. So how do we get to this point?
Causes of Dehydration
The basic cause of mild dehydration comes from simply not drinking enough water throughout the day.
But there are other reasons your body could be dehydrated – from mild dehydration to severe dehydration that needs hospitalization:
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Hot weather
If you feel like something is happening that could cause dehydration (like you’re just getting a fever or you know you’ll be working outside in hot weather), stay proactive. Bring large jugs of water with you.
Symptoms of Dehydration
It’s important to keep in mind that there are really two different types of dehydration. One is mild. You’re not dying, and you don’t have to go to the hospital. You simply need to drink more water so your body can function at its optimal level.
Signs of this type of dehydration include:
- Feeling extra thirsty
- Having a dry mouth
- Feeling sleepy
- Having less urine
- Getting a headache
- Having dry skin
- Having less urine than normal
- Having urine that is darker than normal
Then you can have very severe dehydration. In this case, you will probably have to go the hospital for IV fluids and medical attention.
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Signs of this type of dehydration include:
- Having any of the symptoms above
- Having a drop in blood pressure
- Getting a fever
- Noticing your skin slowly goes back to normal after you pinch it
- Feeling confused
- Experiencing rapid heart rate
Both types of dehydration will lead you to less urine output (sometimes no urine at all), so both could potentially encourage a UTI. The key is to never allow it to happen in the first place.
To learn about other ways dehydration affects your body with this short video:
5 Ways To Prevent Dehydration
So if you want to make sure you staying plenty hydrated to ward of UTIs and keep an overall healthy body, here are 5 easy ways to prevent dehydration. Though it’s possible to rehydrate after you’ve been dehydrated, it is 10x easier to stop it before it starts.
1. Drink & “Eat” Water All Day
Okay, our first point may seem a bit obvious, yet so many people still do not drink nearly enough water each day. (If you struggle with getting in enough water everyday, jump down to my “tips for drinking more water” list below!)
By simply drinking consistently, you can prevent mild dehydration. Always have a glass with you, and then use it.
“Eating” water is important too. There are actually a ton of fruits that are super high in water content that will actually help hydrate you. Some of my favorites are:
- Watermelon & other melons
2. Workout Smart
Your body needs regular exercise in order to be strong and healthy. But if you are not properly hydrating, you are doing harm to you body each time you workout. Make sure you drink plenty of water before you exercise, while you exercise, and after you exercise.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests that any active people drink:
- At least 16 to 20 ounces over one to two hours before their activity
- 6 to 12 ounces ever 10 to 15 minutes of outdoor activity
- Then another 16 to 24 ounces after you are done.
3. Try Healthy Electrolytes
Many people will recommend Gatorade after a hard workout (or even after a fever) to replace the electrolytes you’ve lost with all that sweat and re-hydrate your body. The problem with sports drinks is they are often filled with sugar or artificial sugars – and they often have food coloring.
Instead, a fabulous all-natural, safe, healthy, and delicious way to boost your hydration and up your electrolytes is to drink coconut water. Choose the kind that has no sugar added. You also want it to be non-GMO certified.
The Wellness Mama blog also has a homemade sports electrolyte drink recipe without all the additives and chemicals.
4. Find Sickness Hydration Options
When you are sick with a stomach bug or fever, you are losing a ton of water. Yet, water rarely feels like something you want to be drinking. If you can’t stomach it at that moment, find a liquid you can handle. Some of my favorite go-to sickness hydration options are:
- Warm chicken broth
- Homemade popsicles (or low-sugar options from the health food store)
- Peppermint tea
- Ginger tea (much better for you than ginger ale; it can be iced or hot)
- Ice chips (if your fridge has a “crushed ice” option that will be perfect; if not have a friend or family member put a few ice cubs in a bag and gently crush them into smaller pieces that won’t feel too cold in your mouth)
5. Drink Alcohol In Moderation
Alcohol is dehydrating. In fact, that’s one of the reasons you wake up feeling so miserable the next morning. If you are currently experiencing any dehydration, avoid alcohol entirely.
But in general – anytime you go out to drink follow the 1:1 ratio: every alcoholic drink (which could be a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer, or a shot) must be followed by an entire glass of water.
Not only will this help you stay hydrated, but it will also slow you down. You’ll wake up in the morning feeling great, and you won’t be nearly had dehydrated.
Tips For Drinking More Water
Sometimes people have the very best of intentions: they want to drink more water, but they simply forget. They get to the end of the day and realize their water bottle is still untouched.
If this sounds anything like you, check out my tips for dinking more water throughout the day:
- Always go to bed with a full glass of water. Take a sip if you wake up thirsty. And when you wake up – you have no excuse – there is an entire glass ready for you to drink. This helps you start your morning off right.
- Shake up the flavor. Toss in a few pieces of fruit to make your water taste better or add a drop or two of citrus essential oil (make sure you choose a brand that is labeled safe for ingestion). My guess is you probably don’t forget about your delicious coffee drink at your desk. Make your water a delicious drink you don’t forget about too.
- Find a new routine. I like to refill my water glass every single time I get up to use the bathroom during my workday (and also at lunch). This routine helps get me in a rhythm. Maybe your routine could be every time you feed your baby, or every time you finish another project.
- Alternate with sparkling water. When I’m sick of drinking plain water all day, I will switch it up to sparkling water. It is just as hydrating as a plain glass of water, but the carbonation makes it more satisfying (without the sugar grams in a soda.)
- Use an app for tracking/reminders. There are lots of apps out there that will allow you to easily track your water intake each day. They will also send you reminders throughout the day, so you remember to drink.
Say Hello Water, Goodbye UTIs
So let’s bring this back to those urinary tract infections. If keeping UTIs away is really as simple as drinking more water, why wouldn’t you give it a try? Not only will your bladder thank you, so will the rest of your body!
Then remember this important fact: boosting your hydration will definitely help you in the UTI department, but it’s not the only factor to consider. You may also want to consider an all-natural supplement like D-mannose, which has been proven to keep UTI-bacteria away.