Interstitial cystitis is an ongoing inflammation in the wall of the bladder. It is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS) or bladder pain syndrome (BPS).
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is not a urinary tract infection. Because IC is often mistaken for a bacterial infection, many sufferers have been treated repeatedly with antibiotics which brought no relief.
The pain of IC emanates from the bladder wall which may be damaged by pinpoint bleeding (also known as glomerulations or petechial hemorrhages) or ulcers.
In 10% of cases, Hunner's ulcers (patches of broken skin on the wall of the bladder) are present.
Interstitial cystitis causes bladder spasms, frequent urination (up to 60 times a day or more), bladder pain, and inability to control urination (incontinence). As the bladder fills, pain increases. After urination, there is some relief.
Pain can affect the lower back, upper legs, and the genitals. The lower abdomen may swell, a symptom known as "IC Belly".
Sexual intercourse can be painful. In women, symptoms may increase during ovulation, or around the time of their menstrual periods.
Symptoms can come and go, often for no apparent reason. They may disappear for days, weeks, even years, with no hint as to when or if symptoms will return.
Acupuncture and acupressure, biodfeedback training, cognitive therapy, electric nerve stimulation, hypnosis and physical therapy have all shown some success.
Writing in a journal may help the individual to recognize their own triggers and patterns.
Some possible triggers are foods, medicine or supplements, exercise, hormonal changes, sex and stress.
It's wise to get to know your symptoms and triggers. Then you can build safeguards against them in your life.
During a flare, avoid restrictive clothing like pantyhose or tight jeans.
Put a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it.
Take a warm bath, with a small amount of water in the tub, or in a sitz bath which fits over the toilet.
Apply a cold pack, heating pad or hot water bottle to the perineum (area between anus and genitals).