Interstitial cystitis is fairly common in primary care practices and very common in urology practices. Still, it is probably underdiagnosed. Because symptoms can be confusing, patients are sometimes thought to have psychogenic problems or are treated repeatedly with antibiotics, despite the absence of evidence of bacterial infection. The key to correct diagnosis is awareness of the condition and its characteristics. In patients who have symptoms that resemble routine cystitis but normal results on urinalysis, interstitial cystitis should be considered as the working diagnosis. This is especially applicable in women, who are affected far more often than men. Various therapies have been tried, but the cure, like the cause, remains unknown. Many patients respond to some form of therapy and may even have long-term remissions. However, arriving at the form of therapy that relieves symptoms in a given patient is often a trial-and-error process. A short-term trial of various methods is warranted initially. Ultimately, however, referral to a urologist may be necessary for definite diagnostic testing and additional therapy.
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