Flu Shot: Is it okay to get a flu shot?

We reached out to two doctors who are both on the ICA Medical Advisory Board and infectious disease specialists. Based on their experience, at this time, there is no reason that people with IC should NOT get the flu shot or swine flu vaccination. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, may have side effects including allergic reactions. Before you get a flu shot or other vaccine, check with your healthcare provider. Ask if there are any special considerations given your health status.

Shingles Vaccine: Is it Okay for IC Patients?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) doctors and healthcare providers have no data to know whether there might be any problem specifically for IC patients getting the shingles vaccine. However, the shingles vaccine is a live virus vaccine, and therefore has contraindications for people on immunosuppressive drugs (such as steroids, antibody therapy for arthritis, and chemotherapy). Also, IC patients with allergies to components of the shingles vaccine may be advised to not get a shingles shot. In any case, because the shingles vaccine is a live virus vaccine, it shouldn’t be given within 4 weeks of receiving any other live virus vaccine. Before getting a shingles vaccine, check with your doctor. Go over all of your medicines and contraindications for the shingles vaccine.

Does Medicare pay for a bedside commode?

IC symptoms of urgency and frequency may require frequent nighttime bathroom breaks. We went to the Medicare website to find out if this national health insurance program for seniors covers the cost of a bedside commode for IC patients. Here’s what we found: “Medicare covers medically necessary commode chairs…In order to qualify, the doctor must write a prescription and document your need in your medical record. Medicare requirements are different for each type of commode chair…If you receive your Medicare benefit through a Medicare Advantage or MediGap plan, call and ask how to qualify for a commode chair. Regardless of your coverage, a supplier may be able to answer questions about qualifying for the equipment. You may rent or purchase commode chairs. Your cost will depend on which type of Medicare coverage you receive.”

I recently changed doctors and my new doctor says that I do not have IC. How is this possible?

There is no definitive diagnostic test for IC. Hydrodistention, while useful in the diagnosis, misses IC approximately 10% of the time. To diagnose IC, doctors evaluate symptoms, perform tests to rule out other conditions, and provide a diagnosis of IC based on symptoms and expert judgement. If you have symptoms of IC and no other bladder problems (no stones, acute infection, etc.), a diagnosis of IC can be made with or without performing a cystoscopy with hydrodistention. Also, if you have been diagnosed with IC via hydrodistention, there is no need to have repeated hydrodistentions done unless you and your doctor determine that they help your IC symptoms.

There are a few steps you may want to take:

  1. Ask you current doctor to treat your symptoms. Printing out the list of treatment options from the ICA website and giving it to your doctor may help spark the discussion about potential therapies to treat your symptoms.
  2. Send a written request to your previous doctor, the one who made the diagnosis, and ask to have your records sent to your new provider.
  3. Let us put you in touch with healthcare providers in your area who treat IC. Complete the Healthcare Provider Registry request form.
Is it safe for a man with IC to get a vasectomy?

Vasectomy, a surgical procedure that stops the release of sperm when a man ejaculates, is considered a minor procedure for most patients. However, it can be painful for a man with IC. Ask your surgeon and IC healthcare provider to discuss your case before you have a vasectomy. Find out about the potential risks given your IC and possible approaches for reducing these risks. If you can handle a scrotal exam, a vasectomy should not be a problem. Though unusual, if complications arise with your vasectomy, you may have unique difficulties associated with your IC symptoms.

Does a colonoscopy aggravate IC symptoms?

Colonoscopies are important preventive health procedures. Unfortunately, the procedure can cause discomfort and for IC patients this may mean that symptoms flare for a few days afterwards (there is cross talking between bowel and bladder). Before you have a colonoscopy, get ready with your flare busters. Talk with your doctor about strategies to reduce flaring. Check with your physical therapist to see if they can help you manage some of the side effects of the colonoscopy procedure.

Colonoscopy Prep: You Want Me to Drink How Much?

We hear from many patients about the required preparation for colonoscopy, an exam of the colon and rectum that’s recommended for everyone, starting at age 50, to screen for colon cancer. Preparation for a colonoscopy requires that all solids be emptied from your gastrointestinal tract. This is usually done by drinking a large amount (two to four liters) of a laxative that loosens stool and increases bowel movements.

Some laxatives, such as Golytely or MoviPrep, require drinking a large amount of liquid. Does drinking all that liquid pose a problem for IC patients? Not really, says many members of the ICA’s Medical Advisory Board. Although the process of clearing the bowel will cause some discomfort, the volume you have to drink shouldn’t increase your frequency because the liquid does not go into the bladder but rather into the bowel. Most IC patients undergo bowel prep for colonoscopy without a worsening of IC symptoms.

Ask your healthcare provider which product is best for you.

For more information about colonoscopy, check out the National Institutes of Health website.

Is taking potassium medication for high blood pressure harmful to the bladder of IC patients?

No. Most people take potassium supplements if they have hypertension because they are likely to be on types of diuretics that lower the normal potassium level in the body as a whole. This potassium level is extremely important to keep in the normal range for many reasons related to total body health and should not be a problem at all for the bladder in IC patients.

This question was answered in the ICA webinar, IC’s Role in CAPPS, featuring Dr. Robert Echenberg. View the webinar to learn more about this topic.

Revised Monday, March 30th, 2015