What is Interstitial Cystitis?

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Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS) , is a chronic painful bladder condition. It causes bladder pressure and pain and you will feel the urge to urinate frequently but you may only produce a small amount of urine.

Symptoms will vary from person to person and may even subside for months or years. You may have flare ups caused by some common triggers such as:

Painful intercourse

Sitting for too long

Pain in your pelvis between the vagina and anus for women

Pain in between the scrotum and anus in men

Chronic pelvic pain

Persistent need to urinate

Pain as the bladder fills and relief after urinating

Stress

Exercise

Interstitial Cystitis symptoms can be the same of those as a urinary tract infection but there is usually no infection. If you are experiencing chronic bladder pain and more frequent urinary urges, contact your Doctor to rule out a urinary tract infection.

Autoimmune diseases

Allergies

Abnormal substances in the urine

Age

Race

Your Doctor will more than likely request a urine sample to rule out infection. A pelvic exam in which your Doctor examines your external genitals, vagina and cervix. Your Doctor will take a detailed medical history and ask you to keep a bladder diary recording the volume of fluids you drink and the volume of fluid you urinate.

- Oral medications such as Advil, Motrin IB or Aleve will help with mild discomfort but you may need a stronger medication so you should discuss this with your Doctor

- Medications that treat heartburn can help with Interstitial Cystitis by reducing the amount of acid in your body

- Muscle relaxants, Antihistamines and Acupuncture may help your bladder by stopping any bladder spasms you may have

- Antidepressants can help manage pain and also help with frequent urination

Some individuals with interstitial cystitis find there are certain trigger foods that may trigger and irritate the bladder. Keep a list of foods that are triggers and eliminate them one by one and then add them back into your diet and you will know what your trigger foods are.

The common four bladder irritants are known as the 4 C’s, coffee, caffeine, carbonated beverages and chocolate. You may also find that tomatoes and artificial sweeteners can irritate your bladder.

Easy stretches, walking and biking may help reduce your symptoms and learn stress relieving techniques such as guided meditation and Yoga which will help the muscles to relax and strengthen them to better support your bladder.

A physical therapist will help you find the correct muscles to work on and will suggest Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are done when you start to urinate and then you tighten your vaginal muscles to stop the flow of urine and then release the muscles to continue urination.

Bladder training is another important exercise to learn because many people get into the habit of of going to the bathroom as soon as he or she feels pain or urgency. Bladder retraining teaches you timed urination which simply means you try hold your urine longer. Keep a diary of how often you have the urge to urinate and the goal is to increase the length of time between bathroom breaks.

There is no cure for Interstitial Cystitis so it is important for you surround yourself with family and friends who can offer you emotional support. You may also benefit from joining a support group to hear how other people live with Interstitial Cystitis and can provide you with more information.

The internet is a wealth of information and you can join online support groups. You don't have to live with this ailment by yourself when there are so many forms of support around you.

Learning how to live with Interstitial Cystitis will help you to still lead a very full and productive life.