Interstitial cystitis is a chronic and painful bladder condition that can negatively impact a person’s lifestyle and ability to work.
The bladder is a hollow organ that expands to store urine. When the bladder is full, it sends a signal to the brain letting the body know that it’s time to urinate. However, in the case of interstitial cystitis, this signal from the brain to the bladder becomes mixed up, and as a result, a person will receive signals to urinate more frequently, even when the bladder is not full.
Patients who suffer from this condition may urinate in upwards of sixty (60) times per day and may also have to urinate many times through the night. The pain experienced by sufferers of interstitial cystitis can also be chronic and severe.
What Are the Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis often vary from person to person and range in severity from a mild annoyance to completely disabling. Common symptoms of interstitial cystitis include:
- The frequent and urgent need to urinate;
- Pelvic pain, especially between the vagina and anus in women or between the scrotum and anus in men;
- Bladder pain, especially while the bladder is refilling with urine; and/or
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
What Causes Interstitial Cystitis?
While the exact cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown, medical professionals have identified a handful of circumstances that may contribute to this painful condition.
Some patients have been identified to have a defect in the lining of the bladder that allows toxic substances in one’s urine to irritate the bladder wall. Other patients experience interstitial cystitis as a result of an autoimmune reaction, whereas the body attacks itself and more specifically, the bladder in this condition.
Finally, certain risk factors for interstitial cystitis have been identified such as:
- Age: Interstitial cystitis generally afflicts patients who are 30 and older;
- Sex: Women are more likely to be diagnosed with this condition than men;
- Hair color and complexion: People with fair skin and red hair have been associated with having a greater risk for developing interstitial cystitis; and
- Having co-existing pain disorders: People who suffer from conditions such as fibromyalgia, IBS, or other pain disorders are at a higher risk of suffering from interstitial cystitis.
What Are the Treatment Options for Interstitial Cystitis?
Treatment options will vary from patient to patient based on the severity of the condition and the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. Common treatment options for interstitial cystitis include:
- Oral Medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to help reduce pain. Antidepressants may be used to help relax the bladder. Antihistamines help some patients to reduce urinary urgency and frequency. Finally, a drug called Elmiron has been approved by the FDA specifically to treat interstitial cystitis, which works by protecting the bladder wall from substances that may irritate it;
- Nerve Stimulation: There are various nerve stimulation techniques that can help reduce pain and urgency, including using a TENS unit on the lower back or pelvis area to send electrical impulses to the bladder in order to strengthen the muscles and trigger the release of natural substances to block pain, as well as sacral nerve stimulation, where a thin wire is placed near the sacral nerves and sends impulses to the bladder. If this treatment is successful, a permanent device can be implanted much like a pacemaker to help the patient cope with this disorder;
- Direct Injection of Medication into the Bladder: Some patients will require a more aggressive form of treatment where medication is delivered directly to the bladder via a catheter; and/or
- Surgery: Only in rare and very severe instances will surgery be recommended to expand the bladder in patients who can only hold very small amounts of urine.
When Does Interstitial Cystitis Become A Disability?
Interstitial cystitis becomes a disabling condition when it interferes with your ability to perform your current job, or any other position in the workforce. For people who suffer from interstitial cystitis, it can be extremely disruptive to have to stop your work on a moment’s notice to urinate which, again, can happen up to 60 times a day for sufferers. Even positions that are sedentary can be difficult for those who suffer from interstitial cystitis as sitting for long periods of time is known to aggravate the condition.
However, proving one’s disability from interstitial cystitis in order to qualify for long term disability insurance can be difficult and will most likely require assistance from a qualified disability attorney who has experience in dealing with this specific medical condition. In addition to having records and medical reports that detail your condition, it may also be helpful to keep a diary of how many times a day you urinate to show how it interferes with your daily life and profession. If you are being awoken many times during the night to urinate, you should also note the disease’s impact on your sleep and ultimately your quality of life.
Finally, severe pelvic pain that results from interstitial cystitis can make it difficult for a person to push, pull, bend, or lift. If you are unable to perform these basic activities, you will have a better chance of qualifying for long term disability benefits.
Ensure You Receive the Benefits You Deserve with a Long-Term Disability Insurance Attorney
If you are struggling to work due to interstitial cystitis and need long-term disability benefits, working with an experienced national long-term disability lawyer gives you the best chance of having your case approved.
Your attorney should be well-versed in handling interstitial cystitis claims and will assist you in preparing your appeal and gathering vital evidence to support your claim. The best part is, your attorney won’t charge you upfront – they only get paid when you do, so you can proceed with your case without worrying about paying out of pocket.
If you’re dealing with interstitial cystitis and it’s affecting your ability to work, call an experienced long-term disability insurance lawyer at (888) 321-8131 to schedule a free case evaluation. We can help you assess your claim, determine your eligibility for long-term disability benefits, and guide you through the appeal process.