Apparently, I’ve reached an age where all health issues I develop somehow develop below the belt. Why my ladybits are protesting, I don’t really know. My ailments are life-threatening, but they are annoying and they are life-altering. During Persephone Magazine’s launch, I shared the details of my Ablation Vacation. This winter, apparently, will be known as Winter of my Bladder’s Discontent.
I went to the doctor last week for what I thought was a typical UTI, but I found out about something else much more annoying (believe it or not) – Painful Bladdder Syndrome, a syndrome related to Interstitial Cystitis. Cystitis refers to inflammation of the bladder. Typically, this is caused by a bacterial infection, more commonly known as a UTI.
Interstitial Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder with no bacterial cause. It’s a bit of a mystery disease, as there is no specific cause. For whatever reason, body signals get mixed up, and it feels (at least in my case) like you have a UTI all of the time. The pain, the urgency, the frequency is all there, only it can’t be fixed with a simple round of antibiotics.
Interstitial cystitis. The cause of this chronic bladder inflammation, also called painful bladder syndrome, is unclear. Most cases are diagnosed in women. The condition can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
The fact that the Mayo Clinic says this makes me a little nervous. I mean, if the Mayo Clinic can’t solve the problem, who can? Onset of this condition is typically around age 40, and most cases are diagnosed in women. Generation X, it’s apparently our turn.
The first step in managing symptoms to adjust my diet. For some unknown reason (again, unkown? really? in 2010?), caffeine, carbonations, and citrus seem to aggravate this condition. It’s suggested that patients keep a food diary to track diet and symptoms to see if these foods (among others) trigger symptoms. So far, I’ve nixed the morning coffee and all soda. I’ve bypassed the clementines and grapefruit at the grocery store. It’s amazing how easy it is to give things up when the alternative is urinating more often than my children and feeling like hot pokers are jabbing your bladder.
In addition to dietary changes, diagnostic tests can be done to determine what other courses of treatment may help lessen symptoms. An assortment of drugs, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and ibuprofen all have been noted to alleviate symptoms in some patients.
There are some days I don’t love being a girl.