September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month, and one great way to raise awareness is by learning about this condition. Bladder pain can occur for various reasons, most commonly bladder or urinary tract infections. But what happens when the bladder pain is chronic and doesn’t go away? This might signify a rare but specific condition known as interstitial cystitis (IC). It’s sometimes known as painful bladder syndrome or bladder pain syndrome (BPS). You may have some questions about this condition, so here are some answers to common interstitial cystitis FAQs.
Answers to FAQs About Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial cystitis was once considered a rare bladder condition. Now, with more than 200,000 diagnosed cases per year, it’s rather common. Let’s learn about the symptoms of interstitial cystitis, treatment options, and more.
What Is Interstitial Cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis is a painful bladder condition. Originally, the condition was considered to be potentially caused by an infection in the lining of the bladder. Now we know that IC is not actually a bladder infection, although it shares some similar symptoms.
IC involves inflammation and irritation in the bladder, but at this time, there is no known direct cause.
Some refer to interstitial cystitis as Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS). Interstitial cystitis can occur in men and children, but it’s far more prevalent in women. Interstitial cystitis was once considered a rare bladder condition. Now, with more than 200,000 diagnosed cases per year, it’s rather common.
IC affects anywhere from 4 million to 12 million Americans, and many of those people aren’t even aware that they have it.
What Are the Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis symptoms can mimic other bladder conditions, such as urinary tract infections or bladder cancer. However, there are a few tell-tale symptoms of this painful bladder syndrome to watch out for:
- Burning or pain during urination
- Ongoing increased urgency (needing to urinate more often)
- Chronic pelvic pain
Research indicates that people with IC sometimes have other co-occurring health conditions, including pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), endometriosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and chronic headaches.
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis may be easy for some people to manage, while for others, the pain can be severe enough to be debilitating. Simple day-to-day tasks like driving and sitting can become painful, and intimacy may feel nearly impossible.
How is Interstitial Cystitis Diagnosed?
Interstitial Cystitis can be difficult to diagnose. However, if you’re experiencing ongoing symptoms, bring it up to your general practitioner, urologist, urology nurse, or another healthcare professional.
According to Mayo Clinic, the diagnosis process may require some tests, such as physical examination, cystoscopy (scoping through the urethra and into the bladder to view inside the bladder), a tissue biopsy, or other specialized tests.
One option for diagnosing interstitial cystitis involves a potassium sensitivity test. People with interstitial cystitis may notice more bladder pain or urgency when a potassium solution is instilled in the bladder.
What are Treatment Options for Bladder Pain Syndrome?
Interstitial cystitis can be treated in a variety of ways. Your doctor may prescribe medication, bladder distention therapy, or nerve stimulation. Some people with interstitial cystitis may use intermittent urinary catheters to drain urine and avoid irritating the bladder.
Is There a Special Diet for People with Interstitial Cystitis?
Some people with bladder pain notice more pain after eating certain foods, which may cause additional irritation or inflammation in the bladder.
Before changing your eating habits, consult your doctor or a qualified nutritionist who is familiar with your condition or other inflammatory health issues. Some people like to start by eliminating common bladder irritants from their diet and monitoring how their interstitial cystitis symptoms react.
Also, the IC Network offers some helpful information about the IC diet.
How Do I Help Raise Awareness for Interstitial Cystitis?
There are several things you can do during September for Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month.
You could make a Facebook status or write a tweet about your personal experience of living with interstitial cystitis, wear a ribbon or pin, or even contact your senator or representative to ask them to support funding for interstitial cystitis and other urological problems.
Catheters for People With Interstitial Cystitis
If you need intermittent catheters due to living with bladder pain syndrome, 180 Medical is here for you. Contact us today.