Interstitial Cystitis Or Urinary Tract Infection?

While several folks experience pain in the abdomen, it can be difficult to define the difference between a bladder infection and interstitial cystitis. Even doctors sometimes tag the pain as a bladder infection and the real ailment remains untreated. I hope to provide you an accessible and clear way to understand the difference between these two unfortunate phenomenons.

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With a urinary tract infection (UTI) or as many call it, a bladder infection, you have essentially a bacterial infection. This infection can originate at any point along the urinary tract. People are often startled to learn that bacteria should not be in this area of their body. Urine, while it can be smelly, does not contain bacteria. The waste from our bodies in urine contains mostly water and salt, but it is bacteria-free. Unfortunately, when bacteria does get into the urinary tract, it can grow and spread fast, which causes a bladder infection.

Bladder infection symptoms include the following: urgency (needing to urinate as soon as possible) is probably the most common and prevalent symptom. Another symptom is stinging with urination. The urine can also be cloudy and develop a foul odor. In more severe cases, the individual may develop a fever.

Interstitial Cystitis (IC), on the other hand, reveals itself through bladder or urinary tract inflammation. Interstitial Cystitis is usually caused by autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, lupup or scleroderma but it has also been know to manifest in people with no known health problems.

The symptoms of IC include pain-inducing bladder spasms, lower bladder capacity, frequency (needing urinate often) and in some unfortunately cases, incontinence (inability to hold it). One of the most frustrating aspects of IC is that it often isn’t diagnosed properly or diagnosed at all.

A bladder infection can be treated with antibiotics, cranberry juide and by drinking plenty of fluids. Interstitial Cystitis, however, does not yet have a clear and guaranteed treatment.

I urge you to seek the care of a physician if you experience any of the symptoms described in this article. Bladder infections can be treated fairly quickly, but interstitial cystitis will require careful adjustment and observation of your diet over time to properly treat it. It is best that you assert yourself in this matter and take action as soon as you can.


How to Find Support When You Have Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome

If you’re one of the estimated one million people in the United States living with interstitial cystitis, commonly referred to as IC, you’re well aware that the condition can have a profound effect on your daily life. But, you should also know that you’re not alone as there are many support groups and organizations who understand life with interstitial cystitis. These groups offer invaluable resources and information about coping, living, and thriving with the condition.

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If there isn’t a group or association for IC in your area or neighborhood, you can always start your own by contacting the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) who will offer helpful information about becoming a support group leader. Starting your own group can be a highly rewarding experience as you’ll play an active role in bringing individuals together who are dealing with the same issues.

Once you’ve established your group, spread the word to publicize upcoming meetings. Many urologists, general practitioners, gynecologists, and hospitals will post notices in their waiting rooms about relevant support groups for their patients. Informative flyers can be posted in libraries, at supermarkets, on community bulletin boards, and in hospital newsletters. Some groups feature guest speakers such as pain management specialists, and offer participants informative hand-outs containing the latest news on IC.

Some of the topics and issues discussed at a typical IC support group meeting include:

– Treatment topics including traditional as well as alternative approaches

– Diet, nutrition, and exercise

– Self-help tips and techniques

– Pain management

– Stress reduction

– Sexuality and pregnancy with IC

Support groups can be a wonderful place for sharing personal experiences with like-minded individuals who can offer understanding as well as helpful up-to-date information about interstitial cystitis. Although IC affects both men and women of all cultures and socioeconomic groups, many aren’t familiar with the condition or its painful effects. And many people aren’t comfortable discussing this type of condition with those who don’t have it themselves.