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IC/BPS Often Misdiagnosed Despite Early Symptoms of Frequency, Urgency, and Pain

Parsons CL. How does interstitial cystitis begin? Transl Androl Urol. 2015 Dec;4(6):605-10. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2223-4683.2015.11.02.

In this study, investigators set out to document what symptoms are most frequently reported in early cases of interstitial cystitis (IC) in the hopes that women in the future will be more likely to get a correct diagnosis up front and receive appropriate treatment that will help relieve their symptoms. The study population included 100 female IC patients who filled out a questionnaire. By far, the most common first symptom was frequency (reported as a first symptom by 81% of patients), while urgency and pain were also commonly reported as first symptoms. Interestingly, the researchers found that 81% of the IC patients had bladder symptoms by age 30, and a substantial portion (21%) had symptoms even before age 10. Despite this, an IC diagnosis was often not made until age 40 or later. That suggests that IC was frequently misdiagnosed at first; and in fact, the most frequent early misdiagnosis was urinary tract infection (74% of respondents). While this suggests a significant knowledge gap among doctors, the author of this study said making an IC diagnosis is easy if clinicians realize the disease typically starts with urinary frequency and progresses slowly with intermittent flares that may occur after sexual activity. If clinicians can use this information to make an accurate diagnosis, more women will receive helpful treatment, and health care costs may be reduced.