Ketamine is a general anesthetic primarily used in veterinary medicine that is used by some people to induce a dissasociative state, hallucinations and visualizations. Also known as K or Special K, this popular club drug blocks pain paths in the brain without depressing respiratory functions while giving users an out-of-body psychedelic experience. As a recreational drug, ketamine is typically taken orally or snorted. The drug is often sold in powder form and can easily be confused with other drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. It can also be dissolved in liquids such as drinks, injected intramuscular or smoked with tobacco or marijuana. Users take the drug because it has psychedelic qualities and users can experience an out-of-body feeling.
In small amounts, the experience of ketamine is mild, visualizations are small and people may feel heavy in their arms and legs. Some will feel the urgent need to sit down, have perception shift and may find it difficult to verbalize what they are experiencing. In larger doses, ketamine can cause individuals to lose consciousness which is similar to that of going under anesthetic prior to a surgical procedure. Ketamine users often face safety and health risks as a result of their own behavior when on the drug. Some people have taken the drug when driving, in a pool or bath which can have deadly affects on a person. This is because of the dissasociative state a person experiences on the drug and they may not be aware of what is happening or what they are doing. People can experience injuries when they are on ketamine and not care that they are in pain, or not associate themselves with the injury. Ketamine should be avoided by people who have drunk alcohol, as many people will vomit when they take alcohol and ketamine together. Individuals who take barbiturates or Valium should also avoid combining these drugs with ketamine.
In low doses, ketamine has been found to be an effective analgesic that is safe and has minimal side effects. However, in large, repeated doses, the drug has been found to cause shrinkage and fibrotic changes to the bladder when used in excess. This damage causes a person to have difficulty in holding urine, incontinence and may cause ulceration in the bladder.
Many people who are suffering from the symptoms associated with ketamine bladder syndrome delay in presenting to a doctor. Most heavy users of ketamine are aware of the side effects of taking high doses of the drug but are reluctant to seek help for fear of embarrassment or police involvement. This can cause a worsening of symptoms and diagnosis can be delayed. Earlier recognition of the condition and treatment can prevent further deterioration.
Researchers and health workers first documented the link between ketamine and bladder infection in 2007 but it has been a recent discovery that problems associated with the bladder was a specific disorder and not a urinary tract infection. It was initially believed that the problems associated with ketamine were related to adulterant substances that were combined with the drug when sold on the street. However, researchers found that the ketamine specifically caused bladder cells to become cytoatic or severely damaged and die with repeated heavy doses.
Individuals who are suffering from ketamine bladder syndrome may show signs similar to a urinary tract infection or cystitis however, antibiotics that are prescribed to treat these conditions do little to resolve the problem. Common symptoms experienced include;
* Frequent urination
* Sudden and urgent need to urinate
* Feeling of fullness in the bladder that is not relieved by urination
* Pelvic and bladder pain
* Incontinence or inability to hold urine
* Blood in urine
Treatment for ketamine bladder syndrome varies but in some cases the disorder responds well to oral medications that help reduce inflammation of the bladder. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the long term treatment of the syndrome requires management of pain associated with the disorder and dietary changes to reduce inflammation. At this stage there is not a one-fix treatment that can reverse the damage that the ketamine has caused to the body. It is essential that any person suffering from ketamine bladder syndrome should cease using the drug and get professional treatment for substance addiction problem.
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