What is a UTI?

A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract; most commonly caused by bacteria that are normally found in the digestive tract called Escherichia coli (E. coli) that mistakenly finds its way into the bladder or urethra.

How common are UTIs?

Up to 70% of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime, of this group up to 30% will suffer recurrent UTIs. However, only 5% of men will experience a UTI in their lifetime.

UTIs are more common in women than men. This may be partly due to differences in anatomy; the female urethra is very short (around 4 cm), so bacteria can more easily make their way into the urinary tract.

What is a UTI and where does it occur?

UTI is a blanket term for an infection that occurs anywhere in the urinary tract.

The urinary tract consists of the kidneys (which filter blood to produce urine), the tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder (ureter), the bladder and the tube that leads from the bladder to outside the body (urethra). UTIs can occur in the bladder, urethra or kidneys.Depending on where the infection occurs, there are more specific terms.

Cystitis (infection of the bladder)

Cystitis is the most common UTI and occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra, and cause inflammation of the bladder lining. While cystitis may be painful and inconvenient,the good news is it isn’t contagious (e.g. during sexual intercourse) and it can be simple to treat when addressed early. Treatment should be initiated as soon as possible to stop the infection from spreading further up the urinary tract.

Urethritis (infection of the urethra)

Urethritis generally occurs when a bacterial infection causes inflammation of the urethra and typically causes irritation and pain while urinating.

Pyelonephritis (infection of the kidney)

Most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract (i.e. bladder and urethra). Pyelonephritis occurs when an existing infection travels up past the bladder and affects the ureter or kidney. Pyelonephritis can potentially spread to the blood stream causing severe illness, and prompt medical attention is required.

Hiprex is not suitable for use by people with Pyelonephritis.

It is important to seek medical attention if a urinary tract infection is suspected. Early treatment of UTI may help prevent the infection spreading further up the urinary tract

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

If you have a UTI, you may experience some of these common signs and symptoms.

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Urine comes as only a few drops
  • Burning pain or a ‘scalding’ sensation when urinating (dysuria)
  • A feeling that the bladder is still full after urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pain in your lower abdomen or above the pubic bone

UTIs can be serious if infection spreads to the upper urinary tract, if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms, please speak to your Healthcare Professional for medical advice.

  • Back pain
  • High fever
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the urine (haematuria)

UTI treatments

There are different treatments available for UTIs that work in different ways or at different stages. It’s important to understand the place for each.

When you have symptoms of a UTI

While taking treatments for a UTI, remember to drink plenty of water and empty your bladder fully each time you go to the toilet.


The standard treatment your doctor may prescribe when you see them about a UTI is a course of antibiotics. These are generally quite effective in treating the cause of a UTI by killing the bacteria that are causing your symptoms.

Urinary alkalinisers

These treatments are used only to relieve the painful symptoms of a UTI. They work by raising the pH (making it more alkaline), thereby making urine more comfortable to pass. They will not treat the underlying cause of a UTI or prevent recurrent UTIs.

To prevent recurrent UTIs

While taking treatments for a UTI, remember to drink plenty of water and empty your bladder fully each time you go to the toilet.


If you experience recurrent UTIs, your doctor may consider antibiotics to help prevent the next UTI. However, they may consider other options as frequent use of antibiotics has the potential to make bacteria resistant, so alternatives for preventing recurrent UTIs are becoming important.

Cranberry and natural remedies

 The current clinical trial evidence states that the use of cranberry-containing products for the prevention of UTIs are ineffective.


Hiprex is an antibacterial that is used to eliminate and suppress urinary tract bacteria, providing protection from recurrent UTIs. It helps create an environment that prevents the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Hiprex should be started after successful treatment of a UTI.

Preventing recurrent UTIs

Some people may be more prone to UTIs than others

  • Sexually-active women
  • Women, due to the anatomy of the urethra being relatively short, only about 4 cm long
  • People with urinary catheters who cannot empty their own bladder
  • People with an altered immune system, including people with diabetes
  • Men with prostate problems that interfere with bladder emptying
  • Babies, especially those with physical problems of the urinary system

What are the most common causes?

  • Improper wiping (back to front)
  • Sexual activity

How to avoid UTIs?

The following may help to reduce the risk of UTIs.

  • Drink lots of water
  • Urinate immediately after sexual intercourse
  • Wipe from front to back after urinating or bowel movements
  • Treat vaginal infections quickly e.g. thrush
  • Avoid spermicide-containing products
  • Don’t delay going to the toilet
  • Empty your bladder fully when you do go to the toilet

See your Healthcare Professional if symptoms persist