What is Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome?© Bladder Health UK (formerly the Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation)
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall. IC is not believed to be caused by bacteria, and does not respond to conventional antibiotic therapy. It is important to note, however, that IC is not a psychosomatic disorder, nor is it caused by stress.
It can take a very long time to get a correct diagnosis. There tends to be a lack of awareness of IC in the medical profession (and the general public). The COB Foundation(Now Bladder Health Uk) is trying to address this problem through the distribution of education, information and literature.
Bladder diseases continue to be 'socially unacceptable' conditions, which are not often discussed in public. Some sufferers may feel isolated because of this. The COB Foundation can provide IC patients with local contacts that understand the condition.
It is important to note that the disease affects individuals in very different ways. There is no set of universal symptoms for IC, but the effects on an individual's life cannot be understated. The disease is often debilitating and may cause the patient to experience feelings of helplessness and despair. Nevertheless, progress has already been made in alerting the medical and scientific world to the seriousness of this condition.
Who is affected?
IC can affect males and females of any age or race, although it is most commonly found in women.
What are the main symptoms of IC?
FREQUENCY - Day and/or night frequency of urination (up to 60 times a day in severe cases). In early or very mild cases, frequency is sometimes the only symptom.
URGENCY - The sensation of having to urinate immediately may also be accompanied by pain, pressure or spasms.
PAIN - Can be in the abdominal, urethral or vaginal area. Pain is also frequently associated with intercourse.
How can IC affect an individual's life?
Many IC sufferers find that their life revolves around knowing where the nearest lavatory is. Therefore, any trip away from home requires careful thought and planning. Some sufferers of IC can find themselves virtually housebound.
Obviously this can lead to other problems such as social isolation and depression. Severe tiredness can also occur if the sufferer has to get up repeatedly during the night.
Sufferers may also be in constant pain which can affect relationships and work. Pain is often only relieved when actually emptying the bladder and is therefore only momentary.
A large number of sufferers find that certain foods, drink and even clothing can aggravate their condition. Diet can become very restrictive.
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