An Interstitial Cystitis flare up can feel quite similar to a bladder infection or Urinary Tract Infection. They both can come on quite suddenly and share similar symptoms: burning when urinating, extreme pressure, discomfort, pain, and urgency. Antibiotics will usually get rid of a bladder infection or UTI quite easily– but they will not help Interstitial Cystitis. In fact, doctors commonly misdiagnose Interstitial Cystitis and prescribe unnecessary antibiotics to patients. You might be wondering, “If the symptoms are similar, why is Interstitial Cystitis so much more difficult to treat? Why don’t antibiotics help?”
Antibiotics treat bacterial infections, and UTIs usually occur from tiny amounts of bacteria entering the urethra. This bacteria flourishes in its new environment despite your body’s attempts to flush it out. Interstitial Cystitis, however, is not caused by bacteria and so antibiotics do not help. Flare ups stem from an inflammation in the lining of the bladder caused by certain foods, beverages, and of course, genetic predisposition. (A urinalysis from a woman with a bacterial infection will look a lot different from a woman with Interstitial Cystitis, so it’s important that your doctor checks).
If you are like most women you will probably get a Urinary Tract Infection once or twice in your life. But if you are someone who always seems to have bladder issues, you use the bathroom a lot, you feel like you can’t hold much liquid, or you have been unsuccessfully treated for what you thought were UTIs in the past, you might actually have Interstitial Cystitis. If this sounds like you, please come in for an evaluation. There are treatments available that can really improve your life.