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Interstitial Cystitis Treatments


There is no treatment to cure interstitial cystitis. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Treatment depends on your symptoms. You may have to try several different treatments before you experience relief.

Treatments include:

Bladder Distention

Some people experience relief after the bladder distention (during the cystoscopy) is done.

Bladder Instillation

During bladder instillation, a "wash" is put into the bladder through a tube in the urethra. It is held for anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes and then voided. There are several different types of solutions used. Some coat the bladder and are thought to decrease the inflammation. An example of this is called Hanno "cocktail," which is comprised of heparin and sodium bicarbonate.


Medications may include:

  • Bladder coating—taken orally to coat and protect the bladder
  • Antidepressants and pain relievers—for pain relief
  • Antihistamines—may help stop the cycle of inflammation
  • Antispasmodics—may alleviate frequency and urgency of urination


There is no research linking diet to interstitial cystitis. But many people find that changes in diet can help relieve pain. Different people have different "trigger" foods. Foods commonly reported to aggravate interstitial cystitis include:

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Acidic foods
  • Carbonated beverages

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS uses an external device that sends mild electrical impulses into the body. It has been helpful in relieving pain and decreasing frequency of urination in some people.

Interstim Therapy

Interstim therapy uses an approved device which has been reported to possibly provide symptomatic relief in some patients with interstitial cystitis refractory to more conventional treatments. This is an electronic device which is implanted into the sacral nerve roots of the spinal cord. Electrical impulses are sent to these roots in regular intervals. This is meant to modulate the neural output of the pelvic nerves supplying the bladder.

While some patients have reported some relief, they appear to be in the minority. Doctors do not know yet what makes the device helpful.

Bladder Training

Some people are able to train their bladder to have better control by setting a regular timed schedule for emptying their bladder. The amount of time between voidings is gradually increased. Bladder training should be attempted only after pain relief has been accomplished.


Surgery is a treatment of last resort. It is used after all other treatment methods have been exhausted and if the pain remains severe. The usual approaches include either increasing the capacity of the bladder by adding a segment of bowel to the distensible portion of the bladder (ie, bladder augmentation) or by removing the entire bladder (ie, cystectomy). This surgeries are rarely done for this condition. Many people continue to have pain even after surgery.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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