Interstitial Cystitis (IC), also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a stressful condition. The disease is not contagious and does not spread or worsen over time. However, you may experience various issues affecting your social life and sleep.
IC is difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure, but treatments are available to help ease the illness. The first step toward managing your symptoms is understanding the basic facts about this condition.
Understanding Interstitial Cystitis
If you’re experiencing urinary pain that lasts for over six weeks and is not due to a kidney condition or infection, then it may be IC. You may be experiencing a chronic bladder condition that results from bladder wall inflammation. IC causes the bladder to harden, reducing the amount of pee it can comfortably store. In some cases, you may need to pee as many as 40 to 60 times per day.
IC often affects people of all ages. However, it can appear in your mid-40s. This condition is a widespread problem that affects approximately 1.2 million Americans, primarily women. Women are five times more likely than men to have IC.
Interstitial cystitis affects people differently. Some people may only have slight discomfort, while others may experience severe pain and urgent, frequent needs to pee. This may result in life problems such as:
- Emotional issues due to lack of sleep
- Lack of social life and exercise as a result of isolation and withdrawal
- Anxiety and despair
Recognizing Symptoms and Seeking Diagnosis
Some people might confuse IC for a urinary disease because of similar symptoms. Thus, it is essential to remember that IC symptoms are caused by bladder irritation and last for more than six weeks, whereas other urinary issues are caused by bacterial infection.
Some of the common symptoms of IC include:
- Frequent and urgent urination
- Pain during sex
- Pressure and discomfort in the bladder, genital area, and pelvic area
- Bleeding and ulceration
- Glomerulations on the bladder wall
- Irritated, scarred, or inflexible bladder wall
The signs and symptoms of IC differ from one person to another, and are often confused with a urinary tract infection. If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, ensure that you consult a healthcare provider for a diagnosis, which may include the following:
- Examining your medical history: The doctor may request that you keep track of your symptoms by monitoring the amount of fluids you drink and the amount of urine you pass.
- Conducting a physical exam: It includes examining your pelvic or genital area.
- Urine testing: The doctor can also collect your urine sample to look for symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
- Urine cytology: Your physician may collect a urine sample and examine the cells to aid in cancer diagnosis.
- Cystoscopy: This is the process of inserting a thin tube with a tiny lens or cystoscope through your urethra to view the inner wall of your bladder. They may also take a biopsy for further examination under a microscope.
Treatment Approaches for Interstitial Cystitis
IC has no cure, but there are treatments to alleviate its symptoms. These include:
- Lifestyle changes: For instance, you can train your bladder to store more urine to avoid urinating more frequently. Wearing loose clothing and engaging in low-impact exercises can also be beneficial.
- Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen can assist in alleviating discomfort and thus help you improve your IC signs and symptoms.
- Physical therapy: You can work with a physical therapist to relieve pelvic pain caused by muscular soreness and tight ligaments in your pelvic floor.
- Surgery: Some doctors may suggest minimally invasive methods to treat bladder ulcers. However, this is only a choice if other treatments are ineffective.
Find the Right Doctor for Interstitial Cystitis
Understanding the symptoms and diagnosis of interstitial cystitis is important to get the right treatment option. If you’ve been experiencing pressure and discomfort in your bladder for more than six weeks, it’s time to see a doctor.At the Incontinence Institute, we provide the best healthcare solutions to help you get healthier. Contact us today to learn more about our services and techniques for diagnosis.