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Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

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Understanding Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and what you can do to prevent them

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What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

UTIs are common and will affect around one in two women and one in 20 men in their lifetime [1].

The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, the ureters (the tubes that join the kidneys to the bladder), the bladder and the urethra (the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body).

 

UTI is a blanket term for an infection that can occur anywhere in the urinary tract.  There are different types of UTIs and depending where the infection occurs they may be given a different name. 

Cystitis (infection of the bladder)

Cystitis is the most common UTI and occurs when bacteria, usually from the digestive tract, travel up the urethra, and cause inflammation of the bladder lining. Whilst 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.

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

What is a Recurrent UTI?

Recurrent UTIs are defined as: 

  • 2 or more symptomatic, medically diagnosed UTIs in the previous 6 months or,
  • 3 in the previous 12 months [2]

References:

[1] Better Health Channel. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) (2016). Department of Health & Human Services, State Government Of Victoria, Australia [Accessed May 2017]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/urinary‐tractinfections‐uti

[2] Geerlings SE et al. Infect Dis Clin North Am 2014;28(1):135−147.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

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

  • Wanting to urinate more often and urgently
  • Burning pain when urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Strong‐smelling urine
  • Feeling that the bladder is still full after you have urinated
  • Pain 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)

What causes a UTI?

A UTI is caused by micro‐organisms that aren’t usually found in your urinary tract. The most common micro‐organism is a bacterium, found in your digestive tract, called Escherichia coli (E. coli).  It usually enters the urinary system through the urethra where it has been spread from the anus.

E.coli is responsible for >85% of all UTIs and also recurrent UTIs [1]. However, there are other bacteria that can cause UTIs. Your doctor may ask for a urine sample to confirm which bug has infected your urinary tract so that they can recommend appropriate treatment.

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

 What are the most common causes?

  • Improper wiping (back to front)
  • Sexual activity

Reference:

[1] Barnett BJ and Stephens DS. Am J Med Sci. 1997;314(2):245−249.

TREATMENTS FOR URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS

There are different treatments available for UTIs. These work in different ways or at different stages of a UTI. 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.

Antibiotics

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

Urinary alkalinisers

These are used to help relieve the painful symptoms of a UTI only. They work by raising urinary 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.

If you suffer from frequent UTIs then you may want to read the information about prevention of UTIs.

PREVENTION OF URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS

Following successful treatment of a symptomatic UTI you may want to consider alternatives to help prevent recurrence of UTIs.

To prevent recurrent UTIs

Remember to drink plenty of water and empty your bladder fully each time you go to the toilet.

Antibiotics

A course of antibiotics will likely be prescribed by your doctor to treat the symptoms of a UTI. If you experience recurrent UTIs, your doctor may consider antibiotics to help prevent the next UTI. There are concerns about frequent use of antibiotics [1], so alternatives for preventing recurrent UTIs are becoming important.

Cranberry and natural remedies

There is some research that shows cranberry‐containing products may help to prevent UTIs by lowering the ability of E. coli to stick to the urinary tract lining. However, only a small potential benefit has been demonstrated and the current clinical trial evidence does not support the use of cranberry‐containing products for the prevention of UTIs [2]. 

Antibacterials

Hiprex™ is an antibacterial that is used to prevent recurrent UTIs. This means it helps create an environment that prevents the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Hiprex™ should be started after successful treatment of a symptomatic UTI.

It is important that when you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI, the symptoms are treated before using agents to help prevent UTIs.

References:

[1] NPS Medicinewise. NPS Medicinewise (2016). Antimicrobial use and resistance in Australia: keeping Australia informed and prepared. [Accessed May 16, 2017]. Available from: https://www.nps.org.au/medical‐info/clinical‐topics/news/antimicrobial‐use‐and‐resistancein‐australia‐keeping‐australia‐informed‐and‐prepared

[2] Jepson RG et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 10. Art.

About Hiprex™

Hiprex™ is an antibacterial that suppresses and eliminates the bacteria that cause UTIs.

How?

It all comes down to the way Hiprex™ works in the body. When you take a Hiprex™ tablet, the body breaks down the active ingredient (hexamine hippurate 1g/tablet). This agent goes to work when it reaches an acidic environment, like the bladder, killing the common bacteria that cause UTIs.

Hiprex™ is available in:

How to take Hiprex™

  • Hiprex™ should be started after you have finished treatment of your current UTI
  • Avoid the use of urinary alkalinisers and antacids, as these may lessen the effectiveness of Hiprex™ if taken at the same time
  • Take Hiprex™ with or without food

Hiprex dosage

  • Adults: 1 tablet, twice a day
  • Children (6-12 years): 1/2 to 1 tablet, twice a day

Or as directed by your healthcare professional 

Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. 

Note: If you are taking any prescription medicines, please consult your healthcare professional before taking Hiprex.

Will I become resistant to Hiprex?

The good news is there is no known treatment resistance developing with continuous use of Hiprex™, so it can be taken long‐term [1].

If you are experiencing frequent UTIs and you would like to prevent these recurring you can ask your doctor or pharmacist if Hiprex™ is suitable for you.

Additional tips for avoiding 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

Reference:

[1] Cronberg S et al. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294(6586):1507–1508.

*Antibacterials for systemic use. The PBS maximum supply is quantity of 100 tablets (1 bottle) with 5 repeats. Refer to the PBS Schedule for further details.

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