What Is Interstitial Cystitis?
This condition is an umbrella term that includes many different bladder-related conditions called painful bladder syndrome. The condition can be incredibly uncomfortable and intrusive in a person’s everyday life.
Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis can vary from person-to-person and range in severity. However, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain
- Persistent need to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Urinating only a small amount
- Pain during sex
Pain as the bladder fills
Please note, many of the symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis mimic a urinary tract infection. However, this condition doesn’t include an infection.
What Causes Interstitial Cystitis?
It’s not entirely known what causes interstitial cystitis. However, some contributing factors may play a role. For example, there may be a genetic link, infection, or allergy that may increase your chances of having this condition. Other risk factors include:
- Women are more often diagnosed with interstitial cystitis than men.
- Fair skin and hair may increase your risk of developing this condition.
- Usually, patients are diagnosed when they are at least 30 years old.
- You may be at higher risk if you have irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia.
How is Interstitial Cystitis Diagnosed?
Because this condition can mimic other bladder issues, such as a urinary tract infection, it may take some time to properly diagnose. However, diagnosis usually follows this process:
- Your doctor will ask about your complete medical history, including any changes in your bladder.
- You’ll be asked to maintain a bladder journey to identify your routine and any potential issues.
- Your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam.
- You’ll be asked to provide a urine sample.
- You may need to have a cystoscopy so that your doctor can take a closer look at the lining of your bladder.
- A biopsy may be completed to rule out bladder cancer.
Based on the outcome of these tests, your doctor will have a clearer picture of whether or not you have this condition. From there, a customized treatment plan will be put into place.
Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis
- Dietary changes
- Bladder training
- Wear loose clothing
- Reduce stress
- Stop smoking
- Exercise regularly
In more serious cases, you may need medical help, including:
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Nerve stimulation
Your doctor can work with you to identify which treatment options are best for you. If you’ve liked to learn more about your options, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Nore to learn more about interstitial cystitis and your customized treatment plan.
YOU ALREADY KNOW...
Bladder related pain can significantly impact your life. This pain may result in emotional distress, depression, painful intercourse and interference in relationships and work.
YOU MAY NOT KNOW...
Interstitial Cystitis / Painful Bladder Syndrome (IC / PBS) describes pain related to the bladder and/ or urethra. It is estimated to affect over one million American women. The exact cause of this condition is not fully understood.
Many times, women are misdiagnosed as having recurrent bladder infections or “UTls” and most have been treated repeatedly with antibiotics, even when urine tests have confirmed that no bacterial infection exists. It may take years to get an accurate diagnosis for IC/ PBS, and this condition is commonly associated with other painful conditions including painful intercourse, vulvodynia and vaginal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and other auto-immune diseases, which also may require further diagnosis and therapy.
YOU NEED TO KNOW...
IC/ PBS and its associated conditions can be treated through a variety of options. In time, most women have considerable relief with proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Evaluation and Testing
EXAM. To arrive at the proper diagnosis, your provider will get a detailed medical and surgical history and conduct a physical exam, including a gentle pelvic examination. Additionally, questionnaires and a bladder diary can be helpful in establishing the diagnosis as well as the severity.
URINALYSIS AND CULTURE. A urine specimen will be examined for abnormalities including infection and blood.
DIETARY AND BEHAVIOR CHANGES. Many common foods and beverages (caffeine, soda, citrus, spicy foods are some examples) can have a negative impact on the bladder in patients with IC/ PBS. Modifications in diet, through attempts to identify and eliminate triggers, can be very helpful in preventing bladder pain or flares. Learn more by visiting the Interstitial Cystitis Association.
MEDICATIONS. Medications to treat nerve pain, decrease inflammation, improve mood and help seal the bladder lining ore often employed. It is common to use more than one medication in combination and your regimen will be determined based on your specific symptoms.
BLADDER INSTILLATIONS. A “cocktail” of various, soothing medications, including pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, are instilled directly into the bladder to provide immediate relief of painful bladder symptoms.
PHYSICAL THERAPY. In patients who have IC or other pelvic pain conditions, the pelvic floor muscles may be tight or in spasm, have a combination of tightness and weakness, or have pain-triggering spots or knots called “trigger points”. Many women use physical therapy to treat these problems and pelvic floor muscle PT can go a long way toward easing pain and improving bladder symptoms. Your provider works with pelvic floor physical therapists specially trained in the techniques that help women with IC/PBS and pelvic pain.