What is Interstitial Cystitis? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Home » Interstitial Cystitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Garry Stewart
Written By Shasta Wilson

April 20, 2023

Medical Condition -Interstitial Cystitis - symptoms, causes, treatment

Interstitial Cystitis refers to a chronic health condition that causes bladder pain, bladder pressure, and sometimes even pelvic pain.

The bladder pain generally ranges from mild to severe. And this debilitating health condition is part of an array of diseases that are categorized as painful bladder syndrome.

The bladder is a hollow muscular organ that is responsible for storing urine. It usually expands until it is full and then later signals the brain about the time to urinate, communicating via the pelvic nerves. And this leads to the urge to urinate for most people.

With interstitial cystitis, these signals sent to the brain get mixed up and lead to the need to urinate more frequently. It can also be in smaller volumes of urine compared to most people.

The health condition usually affects the women and leaves a long-lasting impact on their quality of life. Since there is no cure for the health condition, medications and other therapies can still relieve the symptoms.

Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis

The health condition symptoms may vary from person to person, and if you have the health condition, even the symptoms may vary from time to time. This may include periodically flaring in response to common triggers like sitting for long, menstruation, exercise, stress, and sexual activities.
The common symptoms may include

  • Pain between the anus and vagina in women or your pelvis
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Pain among the anus and scrotum in men
  • A persistent requirement to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Discomfort or pain while the bladder fills and then relief after urinating
  • Pains during sex

Essential To Note!
The severity of symptoms is different for everyone.

When to see a doctor?

If a person is experiencing urinary urgency or chronic bladder pain, you need to contact the concerned health care provider.

Causes of Interstitial Cystitis

The accurate cause of the health condition is still not known, but several factors contribute to the health condition.

For instance, people with the disease may also have a defect in the bladder’s epithelium that is the protective lining. A leak in this protective lining may allow the toxic substances in the urine to irritate the bladder wall.

The other possible but still unproven contributing factors include infection, allergy, heredity, or an autoimmune reaction.

Risk Factors Included

The factors associated with the higher risk of health conditions may include:

  • Your age
  • Most people with the health condition are diagnosed during their 30s or older.
  • Your sex
  • Women are often diagnosed with health conditions as compared to men.
  • Having a chronic pain disorder
  • The health condition may be associated with other chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia.

Complications Involved!

Interstitial Cystitis can result in ample complications, including

  • Diminished bladder capacity
  • Sexual intimacy issues
  • Lower quality of life
  • Emotional troubles

Diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis

The diagnosis of the health condition may include:

  • Bladder diary and medical history
    Your doctor may ask to describe the symptoms. And in order to keep a bladder diary, record the fluid volume you drink and the urine volume you pass.
  • Urine test
    A sample of the urine is collected and analyzed to check the signs of urinary tract infections.
  • Pelvic exam
    During the pelvic examination, your health care provider examines the vagina, cervix, external genitals to assess the internal pelvic organs.
  • Cystoscopy
    Your health care provider will insert a thin tiny tube with a cystoscope that is a tiny camera through the urethra while showing the bladder’s lining.
  • Urine cytology
    Your health care provider will collect the urine samples and examine the cells to facilitate ruling out cancer.
  • Biopsy
    During the cystoscopy under anesthesia, your health care provider may eradicate a sample of tissue from the urethra and bladder for examination under the microscope.
  • Potassium sensitivity test
    Your healthcare provider instills the two solutions, potassium chloride, and water, into the bladder one at a time.

Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis

There exists no treatment that eliminates the symptoms of the health condition, and not even one treatment will work well for every patient with the health condition. However, you may require to try out several combinations of the treatments before finding the one that actually relieves the symptoms.

The treatments include

Physical Therapy

Getting treated by a physical therapist may mitigate the pelvic pain associated with the restrictive connective tissues, muscle abnormalities, or muscle tenderness in the pelvic floor.

Oral Medications

Specific medications may also improve the symptoms of health conditions. This includes

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antihistamines
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Pentosan polysulfate sodium

Other Treatments Include

  • Nerve stimulation
  • Bladder distention
  • Surgery

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Several people with the health condition may also find relief from the potent symptoms of the below-mentioned lifestyle changes. This includes

  • Dietary changes
  • Bladder training
  • Wearing loose clothing
  • Diminishing stress
  • Exercising

Will the disease ever go away?

It is a chronic condition, but the symptoms can go into remission. That means the symptoms might go away for some time. But the primary goal of the treatment is to diminish the symptoms.

Bottom Line!

The health condition is challenging to cope with but may also be improved by incorporating several lifestyle changes to the daily routines and even using alternate medications.
To choose the correct one for you, one must talk to the health care provider and get clarity over the treatments that will help ease the symptoms.

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