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UTI / kidney pain vs flare pain?

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  • UTI / kidney pain vs flare pain?

    Hi guys

    Not yet diagnosed here (on a 1 yr waiting list to see a urologist) but 95% sure I have IC, got all the symptoms.

    Right now i've been in a 5 day flare, and I'm having trouble managing my level of pain. It hurts - bad - ALL the time. My doc prescribed me Pyridium for the bad days and I've been taking it for 5 days straight, and it's cutting the pain to about 50%. Lots of constant bladder pain and my lower back aches like crazy. This isn't like any other flare I've had, usually the worst pain lasts for a few days but this is getting excessive. I'm also exhausted and woozy- possibly from the pain and/or pyridium.

    So, I'm wondering if I have a UTI or kidney infection. I've never actually had a plain 'ol UTI in my life. I had a kidney infection once, and that didn't even come with urethral burning, just lower back pain and being tired. This to me feels similar to my kidney infection from years ago.

    So, my questions are:

    1. Can anyone describe to me the difference in symptoms between an IC flare and a UTI and/or kidney infection?

    2. How long should I wait with these symptoms before I see a dr?

    Note, I'm in good ol' Canada - so most OTC drugs (UTI test kits included) aren't avail for me, and I have a solid 4-6 hour wait to see a dr. in a walk-in clinic, hence my reluctance to just hit up a clinic.

    Thanks in advance....

  • #2
    It's not easy to tell the difference between flare and UTI --- I have used home test kits and if I get a positive, I call in right away.

    Stay safe

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    • #3
      It is very difficult to tell the difference without a test.

      The quick test they do in the Dr. office is not always accurate, either. I've had that come up positive, but the lab culture come back negative (meaning just IC symptoms).

      I had a similar experience recently where I thought I was having IC symptoms and pain, but it really turned out to be left and right side kidney stone blockages. I'm still new to IC and figuring out what my triggers are and what I can eat, etc., so it was difficult for me to know that something was wrong besides IC.

      If it was me, I guess I'd take a good book and go wait it out at the clinic to find out for sure, so that if it was an infection it doesn't get worse. I know the doctors here recommend that you don't take the pyridium for an extended period of time.

      I actually had an infection and almost no symptoms - doctor found it during regular follow-up and it was a STAPH infection in my bladder. Took two rounds of antibiotics to clear it up. Again, I thought I was probably having IC pains.

      Good luck and I hope you figure out what is happening soon.

      * ITP - autoimmune blood disorder - spleen removed 1978 and in remission since
      * MS- diagnosed Jan-2010
      * IC - confirmed by cysto and hydro Nov-2010 - currently taking no medication
      * possible adenomyosis - suspected by urogyno May-2010
      * low Vitamin D levels - taking 2000 IU daily
      * sleep issues - 1/2 alprazolam


      • #4

        Thought I'd give an update. Turns out I had a kidney infection - by the time I got to the Dr.'s on late Wednesday I had fever, chills and some pretty intense pain. Waiting was a poor idea. I actually went to the Dr. on Wednesday. She said if I had waited until Saturday I could have been in the hospital. (yikes!)
        Got antibiotics which are working, but it's taking me a long time to recover.

        I got a rap on the knuckles for taking the pyridium too long - it just masked the pain and I didn't stop to think about what it might be.

        My Dr, altho not experienced with IC (but is AMAZING, she is so open and willing to help, studying up on my behalf) pointed out a few things to me.

        First, the duration of the pain was beyond my normal flare. Usually 2 days of bad pain for a flare - I should have smartened up after day 3. It was also mentioned to me that any serious pain over 48 hours should always require a visit to the doctor.

        Second, the pain was a helluva lot worse than a regular flare - coming thru painkillers that usually do me just fine. Stabbing bladder pains that made me almost fall over they hurt so bad.

        Third, the pain started to be different - my lower back hurt more than usual. This is where making a diary of my pain helped - I could look back and see things felt different during a flare.

        Last - there was a big change in urgency, usually not something that is a problem for me. I think I was going every 30 min or so...? Anyways - the point is that all these symptoms, while similar to my flares, were different enough that it should have been a red flag from day 3.

        I know it's a bit generic advice, but hopefully it helps someone.

        Thanks guys!



        • #5
          Glad that you are under a doctor's care now and that you didn't wait any longer to see someone. Bladder/kidney infections can be really bad on your body.

          Now that I've been through some IC symptoms, the UTI symptoms and the kidney stone symptoms, I think I have a much better idea of how to differentiate between them. It is hard, but there are subtle differences that when I go back and look at my "medical diary" I can see where I went wrong. Keeping track of my symptoms, medications and appointments has been very helpful for the doctors and I to look back on.

          Your recommendations to pay close attention to your symptoms and their location and severity compared to others you've experienced is good advice.

          I hope the antibiotics kick in quickly and that your pain disappears !

          * ITP - autoimmune blood disorder - spleen removed 1978 and in remission since
          * MS- diagnosed Jan-2010
          * IC - confirmed by cysto and hydro Nov-2010 - currently taking no medication
          * possible adenomyosis - suspected by urogyno May-2010
          * low Vitamin D levels - taking 2000 IU daily
          * sleep issues - 1/2 alprazolam


          • #6
            Kidney Infection

            I have been hospitalized many times for kidney infections and I'm so sorry you are going thru that pain. I usually don't catch it til I get the fever and the chills going and by then, for me, it's too late. I need IV antibiotics and rehydration. I usually think when my back hurts it's either a backache (duh) or kidney stones (as I have a LOT of them). And I have really bad gastritis, so throwing up at times is just part of the deal. You're very lucky to have caught it before it got too bad. So I'm glad about that but I'm so sorry you're going thru this. I hope the antibiotics work quickly!! Good luck!!
            Katie-46 yr old female dx'd with IC after 15 years of symptoms off and on long term antibiotic use, GERD,IBS and now IC diet, gallbladder removed, endometrial ablation w/tubes tied
            Lexapro-20 mg
            Ambien-as needed
            Percocet-7.5 up to 3 per day as needed
            Valium-10 mg x2 per day
            Phenergan-1 at night
            Prelief w/everything
            Now recovering from acute pancreatitis

            Currents treatments that help somewhat:
            Heating pad
            Hot baths
            Being VERY still while lying down with legs elevated