Interstitial Cystitis

There are a number of things we can do together to make a world of difference with interstitial cystitis, but it all starts with talking to your INTEGRIS Health urologist.

Relieve the pressure – and the pain.

Mixed Messages

Your bladder is a hollow, balloon-like organ that stores urine until it’s ready to be expelled. As the bladder expands, the pelvic nerves communicate to the brain that it’s time to urinate. But chronic inflammation from interstitial cystitis confuses these signals. Your brain might be telling you that it’s time to urinate more often, but you’re actually producing smaller volumes of urine. Interstitial Cystitis can also cause bladder pressure and pain ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain.

Solving the Problem

We’re not sure exactly what causes interstitial cystitis. If could be due to an autoimmune reaction, heredity, stress, infection, allergy, or some other cause. What we do know, however, is how to make it better. There are a number of simple life changes as well as treatments that can make a world of difference. The first step is talking with an INTEGRIS Health urologist to get a diagnosis and discuss which solution will work best for you.

Understanding Interstitial Cystitis

The following are the most common symptoms for interstitial cystitis. However, you may experience symptoms differently – and these symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so it’s always best to talk with your doctor. Interstitial cystitis can be triggered by common events such as menstruation, prolonged sitting, stress, exercise and sexual activity. Symptoms include:

  • Painful urination, often described as a burning sensation
  • Chronic pelvic pain between the scrotum and anus for men, and between the vagina and anus for women
  • Frequent urination, often small amounts, throughout the day and night. People with severe interstitial cystitis may urinate up to 60 times a day
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills, followed by relief after urinating

If your doctor thinks you might have interstitial cystitis, exams and tests will be required to reach an accurate diagnosis. This begins with your physician asking questions about your health history, symptoms, risk factors and family history of disease, and may continue with more in-depth tests. An interstitial cystitis diagnosis is one of exclusion – meaning your doctor will first need to rule out other possible causes for your symptoms. Tests may include:

  • Urinalysis: Laboratory examination of urine for various cells and chemicals, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, infection or excessive protein.
  • Urine Cultures
  • PSA Test for men over 40
  • Ultrasound
  • Cystoscopy: The doctor uses a small endoscope inserted in your urethra to examine your bladder.

No simple treatment exists to eliminate interstitial cystitis symptoms, but there are various treatments that will help alleviate symptoms and pain. Not all treatments will work for every person, so you may need to try various combinations of treatments until you find what benefits you the most.

Specific treatment will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the disease and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies. Of course, your personal opinions and preferences will also be taken into consideration.

  • Diet Modification: Eliminating or reducing foods in your diet that are potential bladder irritants may help relieve the discomfort or pain caused by interstitial cystitis. The following is a list of interstitial cystitis foods to avoid:
    • Caffeinated Beverages: Coffees, teas, sodas
    • Alcoholic Beverages
    • Chocolate
    • Citrus Fruits
    • High Concentrations of Vitamin C
    • Hot Peppers
    • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist may help relieve pain associated with muscle tenderness, restrictive connective tissue or muscle abnormalities in your pelvic floor that are caused by interstitial cystitis.
  • Medications: These might include NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen to help relieve pain, antihistamines to reduce urinary urgency and frequency as well as certain antidepressants and pentosan.
  • Bladder Distention: Stretching of the bladder with water or gas. This has been shown to help remedy pain and discomfort, though the improvements are temporary, usually up to two or three weeks. This is a procedure that can be repeated, but since the relief is short-term, it's not a viable long-term treatment.
  • Bladder Instillation: Performed by placing a single medication or a mixture of medications into your bladder through a catheter inserted through the urethra. Urination will expel the solution. Though the effectiveness of bladder instillation is limited, being able to have direct contact of the medication with the bladder is an advantage.
  • Surgery: Surgery is rarely used to treat interstitial cystitis. Removing all or part of the bladder doesn’t relieve pain and can lead to other complications. However, if you’re experiencing severe pain, surgery remains an option if other treatments have failed.

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