If you have ever had a bladder infection (or a UTI) then you know just how horrible bladder pain, having to go to the bathroom all the time, and pain during sitting, standing, and urinating can be. However, those of us that have had a bladder infection go to the doctor, get some pills, take them, feel better, and don't have to worry about it till the next UTI. Most of us don't have to worry about the UTI on a regular basis and our lives go on without much thought about it.
But what if it never went away?
For those that have Interstitial cystitis (IC) these symptoms don't ever just go away. Some have milder cases where there are times that the pain is less, the frequency is less, and they can maintain normal lifestyle functions. Others are in so much pain that they struggle to work, they struggle to live a normal life, and they have to worry about bladder control issues as well as frequency whenever they leave the house. For those with IC thinking about it is something that always happens.
The Symptoms Of IC.
IC is like many conditions and presents with different symptoms for different people. With that some have really bad cases and others have milder cases. Unfortunately it isn't really known where it comes from or why it effects people the way that it does. However, this isn't a rare condition that only effects a few. It is estimated that 3 to 8 million women have IC and 1 to 4 million men have the condition.
- Bladder pain and discomfort. This can be a pressure or just uncomfortable feeling in the bladder or it can be a sharp pain. Some have it so bad that they discribe the pain as having razor blades or broken glass in their bladders. This pain can change throughout the month with events referred to as "flares". During "flares" the pain is more intense and harder to work through. For women this can be influenced by her mentratal cycle.
- While the pain may be located only in the bladder it is also possible for it to extend to the entire pelvic region. It can also include the legs, back, and genitals making life very difficult indeed.
- However, things don't end with the pain. Other symptoms include urinary frequency and urgency. Sometimes there is discomfort with urination. This frequency can be as many as 60 times a day and include frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. For some the urgency can lead to accidents.
- IC can also cause a bloating of the lower belly. This makes the area very tender and painful to touch. All the pain and tenderness makes it very hard to wear clothing that fits as well because the pressure of the clothing can cause more discomfort.
- While many people find some things taboo, the truth is that many men and women who have IC have very painful experiences with intercourse which can make a physical relationship very difficult.
As if IC wasn't bad enough, most are diagnosed with other conditions. There are a number of conditions that are found with the IC. While doctors aren't sure why that is, it can be even harder for these patients. Many IC patients suffer with one or more conditions including allergies, migraines, sjogren's syndrome, endometriosis, pudendal neuralgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic prostatitis, asthma, sensitive skin, pelvic floor dysfunction, panic attacks, vulvodynia, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The addition of one or more of these conditions can make life very difficult for IC patients.
Many of us fail to realize what all of these things can mean with a person dealing with them. It is common for IC patients to struggle with stress, exhaustion, and depression. Whenever dealing with pain on a regular basis this is a possibility. Add to that a condition that most people don't want to talk about and you have a situation where it is easy for you to feel alone and lost. It is also hard to have a physical relationship which can make long term physical relationships difficult.
If you think that you have interstitial cystitis then seek help with a doctor. Many doctors will prescribe medications for a UTI even with out a culture showing one present and others will even go as far as to say the pain is all in your head. However, it isn't and you aren't alone. You may have to see a number of doctors, but do not suffer alone in the quiet. You aren't alone and there are some things that can be done to make your life better.
If you hear that someone you know has IC then it is time to be there for them. This is one of those things that is hard to talk about because you don't know who will be there for you. Many find that others don't want to listen and don't want to hear. While you don't want to complain if you do have IC, it is hard not feeling like you have a support group. It is important that you are there for your friends and family if they have IC. Be one they can complain to. Ask questions and show them that you really do care. Make sure that you are there when they need a shoulder to cry on. It isn't always going to be easy, but it is important that someone is there for them. Just remember that if it was you then you would want people there for you.
Support Groups, Others On the Internet, and Your Friends and Family.
If it is you then it is a good idea to seek out local support groups. If you don't have one in your area consider starting one. You can also find support groups, message boards, and Internet friends who know just how you feel because they too are in your position. Try to share with your friends and family. For some it is easier to be there for you, but by sharing you do both of you a favor.
It is estimated that 1 in 26 has IC here in America alone. That is more than those who suffer from breast cancer, autism, and Altimerz put together. Yet IC remains unknown and many suffer without a diagnosis. If you are one who may have IC then now is the time to find out. If you don't have IC then be there for one who does. Learn what you can, share it with others, and make it something we are willing to talk about.