About 4 million Americans suffer from interstitial cystitis (IC), a recurring uncomfortable or painful condition of the bladder.
IC is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS).
IC symptoms are similar to a bladder infection, but IC does not respond to antibiotics.
About 8 in 10 people with IC are women.
Symptoms of IC include:
A feeling of discomfort or pain and pressure in the bladder area - this may get worse as the bladder fills
Needing to go to the bathroom more often than normal during the day and night - as often as every 10 minutes
Feeling like you need to urinate right away, even just after you went
Pain, pressure or tenderness in the pelvic area and/or genitals
Pain during sex
In some people, IC symptoms come and go; but for others, the problem is constant.
What Causes IC?
No one knows what causes IC.
IC seems to run in families. Physical or mental stress can worsen the symptoms of IC.
Smoking can make the symptoms of IC worse.
Cranberry products can trigger irritation in an IC bladder. Fruits considered to be more IC-friendly include pears, mild sweet apples and blueberries.
How is IC/PBS Treated?
Diet changes, such as avoiding citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons or limes) or spicy foods, and limiting caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol can help control symptoms.
Wear comfortable, loose clothing.
IC-friendly activities including yoga, Pilates and walking.
Physical therapy to relax pelvic muscles can help improve IC.
Train yourself to urinate less often once you have your pain under control.
Learn ways to control your stress, such as relaxation methods, meditation and massage.
Explore methods such as acupressure, acupuncture and biofeedback to relieve symptoms.
Oral prescription medications, nerve stimulation therapy and surgery may also help relieve symptoms of IC.
Although more research is needed to understand all aspects of interstitial cystitis, doctors and researchers are continuing to find new ways to effectively treat it. For more information, visit: UrologyHealth.org/IC.
Read the latest issue of Urology Health extra, the Urology Care Foundations patient-focused magazine.
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