What is Interstitial Cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), is a chronic pain condition. It causes bladder pressure and pain. An individual with interstitial cystitis will feel the urge to urinate frequently but may only produce a small amount of urine. Interstitial Cystitis symptoms can be the same as those as a urinary tract infection, but an infection is usually not present. If a person is experiencing chronic bladder pain and frequent urinary urges, contacting a health care provider is important.
A physician will request a urine sample to rule out infection. A pelvic exam is usually necessary to examine the external genitals, vagina and cervix. A health care provider will take a detailed medical history and ask the individual to keep a bladder diary recording the volume of fluids consumed and the volume of fluid excreted through urine.
Symptoms vary from person to person and may even subside for months or years.
- Painful intercourse
- Pain in the pelvis between the vagina and anus
- Pain between the scrotum and anus
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Persistent need to urinate
- Pain as the bladder fills
- Relief after urinating
- Abnormal substances in the urine
- Autoimmune conditions
An individual may have flare ups caused by common triggers, including the following:
- Sitting too long
Some individuals with interstitial cystitis find that certain foods trigger and irritate the bladder. The common four bladder irritants are known as the “4 Cs” — coffee, caffeine, carbonated beverages and chocolate. Tomatoes and artificial sweeteners can also irritate the bladder. Keeping a list of foods believed to be triggers and eliminating them one by one and then slowly adding them back to the diet helps identify food triggers.