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It Might Not Be a UTI; It Could Be Interstitial Cystitis

By HERWriter
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Interstitial cystitis (IC) is chronic inflammation of the bladder in which sufferers can experience uncomfortable bladder pressure, bladder pain and pelvic pain.

IC affects four to 12 million people in the U.S. Women are 10 times more likely to have IC than men.

The symptoms of IC vary from person to person. They can fluctuate over time and may be triggered by menstruation, sitting for long periods of time, stress, exercise and sexual activity.

Symptoms include chronic pelvic pain in the lower abdominal, urethral or vaginal area plus pain during sexual intercourse. There is also pressure, pain and tenderness around the bladder.

Another symptom is frequent urination – often small amounts – throughout the day and night. People with severe IC may urinate 60 times a day. In early or very mild cases, frequency can be the only symptom.

The urgent need to urinate is another. This sensation of having to urinate immediately may also be accompanied by pain, pressure, or spasms.

For many women, the symptoms get worse before their menstrual period.

IC is frequently misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection, but urine cultures are typically free of bacteria.

The cause is unknown. Doctors do know IC isn't caused by bacterial or viral infections. It’s usually diagnosed by ruling out other conditions such as sexually transmitted disease, bladder cancer and infections, endometriosis, kidney stones, and vaginal infections.

There is no cure for interstitial cystitis but several treatments may offer relief.

IC patients should avoid alcohol, tomatoes, spices, carbonated drinks, chocolate, caffeine, citrus, pickled foods, artificial sweeteners and acidic foods. Although cranberry juice is often recommended for urinary tract infections, it can make IC symptoms worse.

There are several oral medications that treat IC symptoms. One, called Elmiron, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for interstitial cystitis. Others reduce urinary urgency and frequency and relieve other symptoms.

One treatment option is bladder distention. Under anesthesia, a doctor overfills the bladder with gas or fluid. This stretches the walls of the bladder. Another is bladder instillation. A catheter is used to fill the bladder with liquid medicine for up to 15 minutes. The liquid is released through urination.

Using mild electrical pulses via transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) works for others. Scientists believe TENS may relieve pain and urinary frequency by increasing blood flow to the bladder, strengthening the muscles that help control the bladder or triggering the release of substances that block pain.

Remember the best way to treat any condition is to visit a health care professional and get an accurate diagnosis.


Reviewed on May 17, 2011

Edited by Alison Stanton

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EmpowHER Guest

The Lady Soma Cranberry Concentrate tablets is the ONLY product that seems to halt cystitis in its tracks before it becomes unbearable & I have found over the years that if I use it as soon as the first symptoms of an attack appear, I have no need of antibiotics. Unfortunately it is only available online at their website and on Amazon. but is definitely worth the shipping cost.

January 31, 2017 - 3:08pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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