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What Is Interstitial Cystitis and How Is It Different from Ordinary Cystitis?

Many women have experienced the pain of cystitis, where the bladder becomes infected, inflamed and tender. This can cause considerable discomfort and a need to continually urinate, even when you don’t really need to go. When you do urinate, it can burn painfully and your urine may smell. If the infection worsens then you could begin to feel feverish or may notice there is blood in your urine.

It’s important to get treatment for cystitis as otherwise, the infection may affect your kidneys. Cystitis is caused by a bacterial infection whereas interstitial cystitis is completely different. This is not caused by a bacterial infection but instead is a medical condition. Although both affect the bladder, ordinary cystitis is generally easily cured with a course of antibiotics.

In comparison, interstitial cystitis is chronic and there isn’t a known cure although the symptoms can be treated and controlled with help from your gynecologist.

What is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis causes pressure or pain on the bladder and it’s not exactly known why it develops. It’s thought to possibly have something to do with a defect in the lining of the bladder wall. If you are over 30 you are more at risk of developing this condition and unfortunately, it can go on for years.

What Are the Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?

The symptoms of interstitial cystitis are very like cystitis. You will find that you want to urinate more frequently and that when you do so, only a little bit of urine is produced. This syndrome can also cause pain in the area between your anus and your vagina. It can also cause pain during intercourse and persistent pain in your lower stomach area.

The symptoms produced by interstitial cystitis can be mild or more severe but should always be investigated by your gynecologist or doctor. This is because an early diagnosis can help you manage this condition.

Without treatment, it can negatively affect your quality of life and some people may even develop depression due to some of the symptoms it causes.

How Is This Syndrome Diagnosed?

Probably the first thing your gynecologist will want to do is a urine test. This will establish whether there are any bacteria in your urine that could indicate you just have straightforward cystitis. If you have interstitial cystitis then no bacteria will be present. They may also wish to carry out a pelvic exam and will want to know your symptoms including how often you need to urinate.

Your doctor will also assess your medical history just in case there is anything that could be causing this problem.

To more fully diagnose the problem, they may recommend using a cystoscopy which will inject water into your bladder. This will give your doctor a good idea as to the capacity of your bladder. It has a light and camera on the end, allowing your doctor to more closely examine the inside of your bladder for any damage.

If your doctor cannot determine any reason for interstitial cystitis they may recommend a biopsy just to rule out bladder cancer.

How Can Interstitial Cystitis Be Treated?

Even though this condition is chronic, there are still things you can do to help ease the discomfort. Your gynecologist or doctor may recommend trying several different solutions to find out which will be most helpful for relieving your symptoms.

Often relatively non-invasive treatments can be useful and which include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen to help reduce the pain. Using antihistamines can help reduce the need to urinate so frequently.

It’s also possible to use physical therapy to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles which will help to relieve pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can help control pain and bladder impulses.

There are also several lifestyle changes that you can make to help relieve the symptoms. One thing that can be useful is to avoid wearing tight clothing that presses on your bladder. Talk to your gynecologist about healthy living.

Regular exercise including lots of stretching can help to reduce symptoms and it will help to keep your weight within healthy boundaries. Some people find it helpful to avoid very spicy or pickled foods or foods that are highly acidic.

You may also want to try cutting out alcohol and caffeine to see if this could ease your symptoms. As you can see there are lots of non-invasive solutions that can be used to help control this condition.

Surgery is possible, but it’s only likely to be recommended as a last resort.

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