The bacteria that cause urinary tract infections typically enter the bladder via the urethra. Though, infection may also occur via the blood or lymph. It is believed that the bacteria are usually transmitted to the urethra from the bowel, with females at greater risk due to their anatomy. After gaining entry to the bladder, E. Coli are able to attach to the bladder wall and form a biofilm that resists the body's immune response.
The infections are more common in women, with one in five getting at least one UTI during her lifetime. Unfortunately, after the first infection, some people will get a second, third and fourth or more UTIs, with each successive infection making them more susceptible to recurrent episodes.
Treatment with antimicrobials aims to eradicate the bacteria causing infection. The chosen antimicrobials depend on extent of infection (uncomplicated or complicated), common local pathogens, and resistance patterns.
Examples of antibiotics for uncomplicated UTI include: Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, Fluoroquinolones, Nitrofurantoin.
Scientists are working on developing a vaccine that can prevent UTIs from coming back. Researchers are testing injected and oral vaccines to see which works best. Another method being considered for women is to apply the vaccine directly as a suppository in the vagina. Other scientists are working on identifying ways to prevent UTIs using probiotics. Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research.