IC Awareness Daily Fact #5 Ketamine Cystitis

In the past five years, ketamine cystitis has emerged as a new, critical health need. Researchers around the world have documented growing numbers of young adults who present with severe urinary tract symptoms and bleeding, resulting from their use of ketamine.

A recreational drug known for its dissociative anesthesia effects, ketamine has replaced heroin as the drug of choice throughout much of the world due, in great part, to its very low cost. No research has been done to determine the incidence of ketamine cystitis in the USA because most physicians do not ask about drug use when presented with bladder symptoms. Physicians must be educated about the role of ketamine in triggering bladder damage.

Ketamine also has legitimate medical uses, particularly in the treatment of pain for end of life care. Ketamine, amitryptiline and baclofen are often compounded into a cream for use with patients who have vulvodynia. Ketamine is also used for the treatment of severe depression.  These patients generally use far less than an addict but they, too, may struggle with ketamine cystitis if used regularly. Side effects should be carefully monitored so that any bladder symptoms can be addressed promptly.

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