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Urinary Tract Infection may be interstitial cystitis – consult a urologist

Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition, often misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection.  Interstitial cystitis is potentially treatable through a number of interventions.

The Urology Hospital’s experts say interstitial cystitis is extremely debilitating and dramatically affects one’s quality of life.  Interstitial cystitis can cause emotional stress as well as problems with sexual intimacy.

Symptoms include a feeling of immense pressure and pain in the bladder or pelvis, as well as the constant need to urinate.  Pain is often relieved after urinating.

Other symptoms – which differ from person to person- include painful urination, difficulty urinating and frequent urination. Pain in the scrotum, penis, testes, or between the anus and scrotum are typical male symptoms.  Women may experience pain between the vagina and anus as well as pelvic pain.

Many of these are also symptoms of a urinary tract infection, so it is important to consult a urologist for an accurate diagnosis, says Dr Preena Sivsankar from The Urology Hospital in Pretoria.  Misdiagnosis results in the unnecessary use of antibiotics which may result in antibiotic resistance, while failing to treat the problem of interstitial cystitis.

The number of people suffering from interstitial cystitis in South Africa is not known.  Interstitial cystitis affects women slightly more than men. In the United States, it affects between three and eight million women and between one and four million men.

The exact causes of cystitis symptoms are unknown, so treatments may vary from one person to another.  Improvement in symptoms could be brought about by a change in diet, fluid intake and lifestyle.  Medication and certain procedures could also assist with treating interstitial cystitis. Dr Sivsankar says interstitial cystitis can be diagnosed through a pelvic exam, a urine test, a cystoscopy, and a bladder biopsy.  A urodynamic study is also useful to exclude other conditions that may resemble interstitial cystitis.

“There is no simple treatment. If you have symptoms, call The Urology Hospital or consult your urologist who will work with you on a treatment regime”, said Dr Sivsankar.

For more information, contact 012 423-4000 or SMS the word INFO and your email address to 33000 (SMS charged at R1.50).


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Urologists are highly trained specialist surgeons who use both medication and surgery as part of a comprehensive approach to care for men and women and children with urological problems. 


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