UTI caused by dehydration

If you have ever been dehydrated – hot days in the sun, not enough fluids passing through your system – you may have found you end up with urinary tract infection-like symptoms. That may mean that you feel the urge to urinate, but not much comes out, and it can feel a bit off as it comes out. This can signal that you need more water, not antibiotics or any other treatment.

If you know that you are dehydrated, and are experiencing these symptoms, then the easy and fast fix is fluids. Drink plenty of water, and your symptoms should go away.

This isn’t necessarily a true urinary tract infection, but when you aren’t not regularly flushing out your urinary tract, microbes can overgrow. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you; it’s normal for this to happen, but it highlights the importance of staying hydrated.

Two personal stories as examples

Miriam

“I was doing my motorcycle learner’s licence on a really, really hot day. The training and test is a half day, and I had the peak-heat afternoon slot. We had all our gear on as required – leather jacket, long sleeve top, boots with socks, kevlar jeans, gloves and a helmet.

I was drinking water when I could, but we were on our bikes in the radiating hot parking lot, and busy learning stuff on our bikes. There’s nowhere to put a bottle of water on a motorbike, plus taking the lid off with gloves on is not possible!

I went to the toilet during our break, and was absolutely dismayed to discover that I had a UTI coming on. I’m prone to UTIs, so having this happen in the middle of my motorbike licence training, with the second half of the training to go, made me freak out. I drank as much water as I could, but by the end of the day it felt like it was a UTI proper. So sad and annoying.

I went home, prepared to do my usual UTI rigamarole, and cancelled plans to go to the pub with a bunch of friends. My boyfriend was like, you’ll be fine, just come! and I was like, dude you don’t understand!

Due to FOMO, I decided to go, and we sat in the pub and drank beer. I was amazed to find that after a couple of beers, my problem had – for the first time ever – disappeared completely. What a revelation. I just needed fluids, so thank you beer, you watery blessing!”

Juni

“A friend of mine came to visit from Europe for a few weeks, and it was our last day together, so we decided to have what we call Wifely Duty. That is, a day of hangs with just us, takeaways, and general looseness of diet and health.

It was a super hot summer’s day, but we were already a bit dehydrated from drinking the night before for her going-away drinks with all our friends. We got up, and sat in my outdoor bath with cold water in it all day drinking beer and playing cards. We stayed up as late as we could, but eventually had to call it a day and go to bed.

The next day, I woke up with symptoms of a UTI coming on, which was weird, because normally that only happens sometimes after sex, and I hadn’t had any. I drank my usual giant glass of water in the morning, and after a coffee and more water, it just went away! I was really worried that it was going to turn into a horrible UTI, but thankfully it was just dehydrated: beer, sun, lack of water.”

Moral of the story?

If you’re having a hot time, drink lots of water! Or beer. But, avoid liquids that will dehydrate you further, such as wine or sugary, syrupy drinks. If you are drinking beer, add a big glass of water before you go to bed to keep the system running while you sleep. You may need to get up to pee in the night, but it’s infinitely better than the alternative.

If you do end up with a UTI proper, we have at-home UTI strategies before you have to make it to the doctor for treatment.

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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