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Insights from the WebMD Incontinence/ OAB Community

WebMD Incontinence/ OAB Community: Why Do I Have Recurrent Bladder Symptoms?

One community member was diagnosed with chronic urethritis related to frequent urinary tract infections. “I have periods of having to go to the bathroom often (with not much coming out), periods of feeling pressure and pain in my bladder (mostly in the evening), and times when I feel a slight burning when I urinate. Then I have periods of no symptoms at all,” she says.

Her urologist prescribed an antibiotic, which she has been taking for about six months. The antibiotic has helped reduce her symptoms, but they are not completely gone, and taking the antibiotic makes her stomach hurt. She asks, “Does anyone out there have the problems I have and what are you doing to help ease the symptoms?”

Diane K. Newman, RN-C, MSN, ANP, says that repeat urinary tract infections are common in women. “I prescribe antiseptics for women who get repeated urinary tract infections. These medications are not antibiotics, but may prevent replication and spreading of bacteria.”

Another woman reports having repeat urinary tract infections after starting a new relationship and having sex regularly again. “I get them at least twice a month, so I’m under the care of a urologist now,” she says. But her urologist thinks overactive bladder is causing her urgency to urinate. She asks, “Can these two ailments have this same urgent feeling with slight burning and minimal urination each time?”

Newman says that urinary tract infections do need to be treated with antibiotics. But she also notes, “Sometimes women develop overactive bladder symptoms of urgency and frequency following a UTI and I prescribe an overactive bladder medication for a few months and the symptoms usually go away.”

Another community member has had urinary urgency and frequency problems for seven years. “During these seven years, I have been diagnosed with multiple bacterial infections, bladder infections, and a couple of UTIs.” Her infections are always treated with antibiotics, but they eventually return. Two years ago, a urologist suspected overactive bladder. “What I now suspect (and what I’ve tried to explain to several doctors) is that this is a part of a larger disorder,” she says. “Any thoughts?”

“It sounds as if you may have ‘interstitial cystitis’ or IC,” says Newman. “IC is a condition characterized by pelvic pain, urinary urgency, urinary frequency, and pain with sex. IC is frequently misdiagnosed as infection, OAB, or endometriosis, among other conditions with similar symptoms," says Newman. It is treated with medication. Other treatments, such as myofascial release, bladder stretching, biofeedback, soft tissue massage, trigger point release and pelvic floor muscle relaxation may help relieve pain. “Dietary modifications may also relieve and control symptoms and avoid flare-ups in symptoms,” says Newman.

The community member who posted the original message thanks everyone for their responses. “I am ironically really glad that there are other women out there with these same frustrating symptoms and no concrete answers,” she says. She adds that since posting her original message, she has been diagnosed with IC.  Her doctor prescribed medication and suggested a special diet. “I haven’t started the pill yet because I’m trying the diet first and have to say it is actually helping! I am basically trying to eliminate all foods with any acidity. I am still working on trying to find the best remedy but at least something is working.”

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