They're for more common than you think. In fact, around 50 - 60 per cent of adult women will have at least one UTI in their life. To find out more about the painful problem, Jennifer Zamparelli spoke with Sarah Walsh, a nurse and founder of Baseline First Aid, on RTÉ 2FM.

"A UTI is a urinary tract infection so its an infection of any part of the urinary tract," she says. This is important to know because depending on where exactly the infection is, she explains, the signs and symptoms can vary.

Cystitis, for example, is an inflammation of the bladder and will likely cause pain, a feeling of urgency to urinate, and overall discomfort while other infections may cause all of the above plus a feeling of burning, foul smelling urine and/or a small amount of blood.

If the infection manages to travel as far as the kidneys, symptoms may include radiating back pain, tummy pain, fever and even vomiting and/or diarrhea.

"You can get really sick really quick," says Sarah, explaining that kidney infections need immediate attention and treatment because, if left unattended, the infection could leak into the blood stream and cause sepsis.

So, what causes this pesky and potentially dangerous infection? Bacteria. Most likely e-coli, which comes from the intestine, that can get into the urinary tract and travel all the way to the bladder where it can multiply and cause an infection.

Unfortunately, much like the common cold, some of us are just more prone to UTIs than others. Thankfully though, treatment for infections of this kind are fairly straight forward and can usually be handled with approximately three days of antibiotics for women and seven for men.

"If you imagine the tube leading from where the urine comes out of your body, for men its longer because it tracks the penis so its a longer urinary tract. The bacteria has longer to travel so that's why men don't get infections as often as women. Only about 12 per cent of men will get a urinary tract infection."

When it comes to preventing UTIs and noticing the signs of infection at the early stages, Sarah says symptoms can vary greatly depending on age.

For older people, it can cause a sudden onset of confusion: "You mightn't realise that there's urinary tract symptoms, they might not have a temperature but they can get quite confused quite easily. If you notice symptoms like that in an older person, they need to go to a doctor."

When it comes to children, depending on their age, you may have to keep an eye out for temperature spikes: "They might just get a rip roaring temperature and you can't figure out why - especially if they're in nappies, they mightn't be able to articulate that they have pain passing urine."

When it comes to kids, Sarah suggests that parents be especially mindful of their children during sunny spells when they're wearing wet swimming togs all day as bacteria can "multiply hugely".

To hear the full chat on The Jennifer Zamparelli on RTÉ2FM, click here or listen back above.