Interstitial cystitis (IC) – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory disease that results in pressure or pain in the bladder. It also produces the following symptoms:

  • pain and pressure in pelvic and abdominal areas.
  • urgency (Feel as if you have to urinate, even right after you urinate.)
  • incontinence (accidental urination leak.)
  • frequent urination

Discomfort may vary from a slight burning sensation to intense pain. The level of discomfort may be consistent or inconsistent. Some people suffer from periods of remission.

As per the Interstitial Cystitis Association, Interstitial cystitis affects over 12 million Americans. Women are at greater risk for developing IC, but children and adult men may be affected as well.

IC is also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS), Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS), and Chronic Pelvic Pain (CPP).

Symptoms of interstitial cystitis?

One or more of the following symptoms can occur:

  • chronic and irregular pelvic pain.
  • pressure or discomfort within the pelvis.
  • urinary urgency (sense that you must urinate)
  • leakage of urine
  • frequent daily and overnight urination.
  • pain while having sexual intercourse.

Your symptoms may vary from one day to the next, and you may experience asymptomatic periods. Symptoms can get worse with a urinary tract infection.

What causes interstitial cystitis?

The exact reason for IC is unclear, but The researchers suggest that a number of factors can damage the mucous membrane of the bladder and trigger the disorder. These include:

  • injury to the mucous membrane of the bladder (such as surgical procedures.)
  • on stretching the bladder, frequently due to long periods of use without a bathroom.
  • weakness or dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles.
  • autoimmune disorders
  • To recover from bacterial infections.
  • Pelvic nerve hypersensitivity/inflammation.
  • spinal cord trauma

Many people with intermittent cystitis have it as well irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or fibromyalgia. Some researchers believe that IC can be part of a generalised inflammatory disorder that affects multiple organ systems.

Researchers are The likelihood of people inheriting a genetic predisposition to IC is also investigated. While this is not common, IC has been reported in blood-related parents. We saw cases in the mother and daughter as well as in two or several sisters.

Research is under way to discover the cause of IC and develop more efficient treatments.

How is interstitial cystitis diagnosed?

No test is available for diagnostic confirmation of IC, and Many cases of IC remain undiagnosed. Since IC presents with many symptoms similar to those of other bladder disorders, your doctor must first remove these symptoms. Other disorders include, but are not limited to:

You will receive a diagnosis of IC when your physician confirms that your symptoms are not due to these conditions.

Potential complications of interstitial cystitis

IC may cause numerous complications, including:

  • decrease in bladder capacity caused by hardening of bladder wall.
  • reduced quality of life because of frequent urination and pain.
  • barriers to sexual relations and intimacy.
  • Concerns about self-respect and social discomfort.
  • sleep disruption
  • stress and depression.

How is interstitial cystitis treated?

No specific remedy or treatment for IC exists. Most people use a combination of treatments, and you may need to try many ways before choosing the therapy that’s right for you and that will make you feel better. Some treatments to treat intermittent cystitis include:


Your physician may suggest one or more of the following medicines to relieve your symptoms:

  • Pentosan polysulfate sodium (Elmiron) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the IC. Physicians are not sure how pentosan works, but it can help repair tears or defects in the bladder walls.

Mothers who are pregnant or want to be concise should not suggest taking Pentosan.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs), ibuprofen, aspirin and other drugs are used to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (such as amitriptyline) assist in relaxing your bladder and also relieve pain.
  • Antihistamines (such as Claritin) reduces urinary urgency as well as reduces frequent urination.

Bladder distention

Bladder distension is a process which stretches the bladder by means of water or gas. It may help to improve symptoms in some individuals, possibly by increasing the capacity of the bladder and breaking the painful signals transmitted by the bladder nerves. The improvement may be observed after two to four weeks to see the improvement of your symptoms.

Bladder instillation

Instillation of the bladder consists in filling the bladder with a solution containing dimethyl sulphide (Rimso-50), also called as DMSO. The DMSO solution is maintained in the bladder for 10 to 15 minutes before being drained. A treatment cycle typically consists of up to two treatments per week for 6-8 weeks and can be repeated as needed.

It is believed that DMSO solution can reduce inflammation of the lining of the bladder. It can also control muscle spasms which result in pain, urinary emergency and frequent urination.

Electrical nerve stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) emits light electric impulses in the skin to activate the bladder nerves. TENS can assist in improving symptoms by increasing blood flow to the bladder, strengthen pelvic muscles that assist in bladder control, or To trigger the release of pain-stopping substances.


Many people with IC have noticed that certain foods and beverages aggravate their symptoms. Common foods that can lead to more severe IC symptoms are:

  • spices
  • chocolate
  • alcohol
  • tomatoes
  • caffeine containing drinks
  • acidic foods such as citrus fruits and juices

Your doctor will help you know whether you are susceptible to food or drinks.

Quitting smoking

While there is no approved association between tobacco use and IC, tobacco use is definitely associated with bladder cancer. Quitting smoking may be helpful in reducing or relieving your symptoms.


Staying active can help you control your symptoms. You may need to improve your daily lifestyle to prevent high-impact activities that cause outbrust. Here are some of these training sessions:

  • yoga
  • low-impact aerobics or Pilates

A physiotherapist can help you learn exercises to make your bladder and pelvic muscles stronger. Check with your doctor regarding meeting with a physiotherapist.

Bladder training

Techniques for increasing the time between urinations can help alleviate symptoms. Your physician can discuss these techniques with you.

Stress reduction

Learn how to deal with life stress and IC-related stress. It may be helpful in relieving your symptoms. Meditation and bio-feedback can help as well.


There are numerous surgical options for increasing the size of the bladder and removing or treating ulcers in the bladder. Surgery is not used frequently and is only considered when symptoms are severe and other treatments have not been successful in alleviating these symptoms. Your physician will discuss these options with you if you require surgical intervention.

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