Purpose Statement

This blog is intended to educate women on issues that affect women. Although we are all healthcare professionals, we are not here to give medical advice. Rather we hope this will encourage women knowing that help is available and give them the courage to seek help.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Interstitial Cystitis

It is a just another normal day except for this nagging need to urinate every 30 minutes, feeling a constant urge to urinate, and now having pain with urination.  Uh Oh sounds like another UTI.  This is the fourth time this year you’ve had these symptoms, so you must have another urinary tract infection (UTI).  Or is it a UTI?  The symptoms are the same as the previous three times.  Every other time you went to your provider, gave a urine sample and left with a prescription for a UTI.  Not a UTI, what else could it be?  It could be a condition called Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome.
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is an inflammatory condition of the bladder that can mimic a UTI.  The symptoms of a UTI and IC are often the same however the urine culture is negative for an infection with IC.  IC is characterized by frequent urination (>8 times per 24 hours), urinary urgency (sudden or constant desire to urinate), pain or burning with urination, pelvic pressure, pelvic pain, and pain with intercourse.  You may experience only 1 or 2 of the symptoms or all of the symptoms.  The symptoms can come and go or remain constant.  IC symptoms can be triggered by certain foods, stress, allergies, and sex. 
Approximately 4 million people have interstitial cystitis with the majority being women.  Diagnosing IC can be challenging as the symptoms can mimic other diseases and syndromes.  IC is not clearly understood and it is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Often patients see several different providers before obtaining an accurate diagnosis.  The good news is that IC is gaining more attention among medical providers and being diagnosed more readily.  Once you are given a diagnosis of IC there are treatment options available to help the symptoms. 
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and suspect you may have interstitial cystitis, I encourage you to seek help.  If you are not sure who specializes in IC in your area, please visit http://www.ichelp.org/ and click on Find a Provider to receive a list of providers.
In future blogs we will go into more detail about IC, symptoms, and treatment options.