Those of us with chronic illnesses, like Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia, are also plagued with other diseases and conditions. Unfortunately, I also suffer from a condition called “Interstitial Cystitis” – also known as IC.
Interstitial Cystitis is often mistaken for UTI’s but has no presence of infection or bacteria. The typical symptoms of IC are urgency, frequency, burning, abdominal pain, back pain, and blood in the urine.
It is only after several years of non-infection UTI-like symptoms that patients receive a diagnosis. Currently, there is not a medical form of diagnosis, like a urine or blood test. Patients are diagnosed through a tracked history.
Last year, I started seeing a Urologist and was clinically diagnosed with IC. Thankfully, he put me on a very, very helpful medication known as “Elmiron”. Every day use of this medication has significantly reduced my IC flares and it allows me to drink the things I enjoy every day, like coffee and tea.
As if Endo and Fibro aren’t frustrating enough, IC usually “flares” with stress or unwelcomed food. I can remember waking up one morning and feeling like my bladder was on FIRE with daggers and nails being ripped through it. There are days that IC is more painful than Endo.
I’ve heard some well-known television doctors state that “IC is an illness in your mind and isn’t real”. But, if you’ve ever had a UTI, then you can understand the pain that comes with it.
One of the biggest problems with IC is that you never really know when it’s going to flare up. Endo and Fibro are sometimes easy to understand since they can be based around your menstrual cycle and the weather. But IC… it’s quite a mystery.
If you have been diagnosed with IC and want some tips for reducing flares, please see below.
How to Reduce and Beat IC Flares
- Recognize the triggers. Do you notice bladder symptoms after exercise, stress, eating a certain food, intercourse, long trips, or drinking something acidic?
- Drink tons of water. Seriously. Clear liquids… keep it rolling.
- Sit in Epsom salt. Draw a warm bath and sprinkle in a 1/4 cup of Epsom salt. The salt may help reduce the burning pain.
- Find the right medication. There are supplements out there to help reduce symptoms. Look for “Prelief” at your local pharmacy. Personally, it didn’t help me, but everyone is different.
- Use an ice pack or heating pad. Place it between your legs and try to relax.
- Implement relaxation techniques. Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and others are extremely helpful for reducing stress and, therefore, flares.
Empower yourself and learn about IC. If you don’t know what you’re fighting every day, then you won’t know how to beat it. Read more at the IC Association.
As always… I am not a medical professional, therefore, this article is based on patient knowledge, experience, and research. If you think you might have IC or a UTI, please seek medical attention!
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