What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is characterized as a non-infectious inflammation of the bladder. Even though men and children can be affected, majority of cases affect women. The exact cause is still unknown. Doctors believe that impairment of the cells that line the bladder might enable substances in the urine to trigger the inflammation of the bladder. The cells that are part of allergic reactions might be involved in bladder changes but the precise role is uncertain.

Indications of interstitial cystitis

Initially, an individual with interstitial cystitis might have no symptoms. The symptoms typically manifest in a gradual manner and worsen over years as the bladder wall is damaged.

  • Pain or pressure over the bladder or in the pelvis
  • Need to urinate frequently and urgently, often several times in an hour

The symptoms worsen as the bladder fills and diminish when urinating. In severe cases, the individual might sit on the toilet for hours, letting the urine dribble out continuously.

Interstitial cystitis

Pain or pressure over the bladder or in the pelvis

The symptoms become worse during menstruation or ovulation, physical or emotional stress, seasonal allergies or sexual intercourse. Eating foods that are high in potassium, tobacco, spicy foods and alcohol might aggravate the symptoms.


In most cases of individuals with interstitial cystitis, it can be managed but full elimination of the symptoms is considered rare.

  • Changes in the diet is the initial step in the treatment. It is vital to avoid spicy foods and those that are rich in potassium since these can further irritate the bladder. Remember that both alcohol and tobacco must be avoided as well.
  • Stress reduction
  • Pelvic muscle exercises
  • Bladder training is a technique that involves following a fixed schedule for urinating while awake. The doctor provides a schedule of urinating every 2-3 hours and holding the urge to urinate at other times. Once the individual is capable of suppressing the urge to urinate, the interval is steadily lengthened.
  • Medications are often required such as pain medications specifically analgesics to reduce the pain. Antidepressants can also help lessen the pain as well as relax the bladder. Antihistamines are also given to minimize urinary urgency. Pentosan is given orally to restore the bladder lining.
  • Stimulation of the nerves branching off the spinal cord which control the bladder. This is carried out to alleviate the pain and urinary urgency.

Some doctors often combine these treatments to provide more relief. Nevertheless, if the combined treatments are not effective, surgery might be a possible option.


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