Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)
IC is a chronic bladder problem that can cause pain and other symptoms. People with IC can have an inflamed and irritated bladder. This can lead to:
More than 700,000 Americans have IC. IC often shows up between the ages of 30 and 40. Women are ten times more likely to have IC than men.
Some people with IC feel only mild discomfort and some have severe pain. Severe cases of IC can keep people from doing their daily tasks, such as going to work or school.
No one knows what causes IC. Researchers are working to learn more about it and find treatments that will ease symptoms. Right now, there is no cure for IC.
Current research shows that a substance found in the urine of some people with IC may block the normal growth of the cells that line the inside wall of the bladder. Learning more about this substance may lead to a better understanding of the causes of IC.
It is thought that genes may play a role in some forms of IC. In a few cases, IC has affected a mother and daughter or two sisters. Still, it does not commonly run in families.
The symptoms of IC vary from person to person. Also, one person can have symptoms of IC that change over time. People with IC may have an inflamed and irritated bladder. They may have mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. The pelvic area is between your navel (belly button) and your thigh. Symptoms also may include feeling like you need to urinate right away, often, or both.
Pain may get better or worse as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women’s symptoms often get worse during their periods. Pain during sex is common.
Your doctor can tell if you have IC if you have the symptoms above and by ruling out other diseases with similar symptoms.
The first step in diagnosing IC is to rule out other health problems that may be causing the symptoms. Symptoms of urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and kidney stones can be the same as those caused by IC. Tests on your urine, bladder, and urinary tract may be done. These can include:
Doctors have not yet found a cure for IC. They cannot predict who will respond best to the different treatment options. Sometimes, symptoms may go away for no reason or after a change in diet or treatment plan. Even when symptoms do go away, they may return after days, weeks, months, or years.
There are treatments available to help ease symptoms. Although many of these options are still being studied, they have shown to help some women feel better. Some of these include:
Keep in mind, these treatments do not cure IC. For some people, these treatments have helped ease their IC symptoms.
There is no proof of a link between diet and IC. Still, some people think alcohol, tomatoes, spices, chocolate, caffeinated and citrus drinks, and high-acid foods may irritate the bladder. Others notice that their symptoms get worse after eating or drinking products made with artificial sweeteners. If you think certain foods or drinks may be making your symptoms worse, try avoiding them. You can start eating or drinking these products again one at a time to see if any affect your symptoms.
Doctors do not have much information about pregnancy and IC. IC is not thought to affect fertility or the health of a fetus. Some women find that their IC symptoms get better during pregnancy. Others find their symptoms get worse.