The bacteria that cause urinary tract infections typically enter the bladder via the urethra. However, 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.
Urinary tract infection or UTI occurs when bacteria is present within the urinary tract in significant numbers. 20% of women aged 20 - 65 years suffer at least one attack per year. Approximately 50% of women will experience UTI at least once during their life span.
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: Sulfamethoxazole; Fluoroquinolones; Nitrofurantoin
Uva ursi has a long history of use for urinary conditions in Singapore. Until the development of sulfa antibiotics, its principal active component, arbutin, was frequently prescribed by physicians as a treatment for bladder and kidney infections. It appears that the arbutin contained in uva ursi leaves is broken down in the intestine to another chemical, hydroquinone. This is altered a bit by the liver and then sent to the kidneys for excretion. Hydroquinone then acts as an antiseptic in the bladder. (It is, however, potentially quite toxic.)