Discover more about the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) trial

Posted by Blooms The Chemist on 5 Mar 2024

Discover more about the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) trial

Approximately 250,000 Australians develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) each year, with women being more susceptible than men. Around half of all women and one in 20 men experience a UTI in their lifetime. 1 

Most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract, involving the bladder (causing cystitis) and the urethra (causing urethritis).

The urinary system is designed to minimise the risk of severe kidney infections by preventing urine from flowing back up into the kidneys from the bladder. While most UTIs are confined to the bladder and, although causing symptoms, are not typically severe or life-threatening.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of a UTI can include:

  • Increased urgency to urinate, even if only a few drops
  • Burning pain or scalding sensation during urination
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • Pain above the pubic bone
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Unusual or foul-smelling urine

If the infection progresses to the kidneys, prompt medical attention is crucial. In addition to general UTI symptoms, kidney infection can also present with:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Vomiting

What causes UTIs?

UTIs typically occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and proliferate in the bladder. 

Despite the urinary system's defence mechanisms against bacteria, various types can affect the urethra or bladder. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the most common bacterium found, often originating from the digestive system.

This bacterium can easily travel to the urethra and adhere to the urinary system's lining. 2

The most common UTIs primarily affect women and target the bladder and urethra:

  • Bladder Infection: The most prevalent type of UTI, mainly affecting women. E. coli often causes it, though other bacteria can also be responsible. Women are at higher risk due to the proximity of the urethra to the anus and the shorter distance between the urethral opening and the bladder. This proximity facilitates the entry of bacteria from the anus into the urethra and, subsequently, the bladder.
  • Urethral Infection: This UTI variant occurs when gut bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Additionally, sexually transmitted infections can also cause urethral infections, as women's urethras are close to the vagina.

How can my Pharmacist help me with a UTI?

UTIs are often categorised as:

  • Uncomplicated: Occurring in a structurally and functionally normal urinary tract.
  • Complicated: Occurring in an abnormal urinary tract or in the presence of complicating factors.

Some states in Australia, such as VIC, QLD and NSW, are initiating UTI treatment programs in pharmacies for non-complicated UTIs. The availability varies by state and territory. 

You can search for a local pharmacy that offers this service at Visit your local Blooms The Chemist Pharmacist for more information on managing and treating UTIs.

This article has been republished with permission and is available in Health Check Magazine. Visit your local Blooms The Chemist to get your copy today.


1Kidney Health Australia, UTIs - what you need to know, accessed 5 March 2024

2National Library of Medicine, Urinary Tract Infections Caused by Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Strains-New Strategies for an Old Pathogen, accessed 5 March 2024