Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms Causes & Treatment

Interstitial Cystitis

Also referred to as Frequency-urgency-dysuria syndrome and/or Painful bladder syndrome, IC (Interstitial cystitis) is a chronic medical disorder that’s known to tighten or even scar the bladder, upon the bladder wall becoming inflamed or irritated. Patients diagnosed with IC commonly suffer from a reduced capacity to retain urine.

Interstitial Cystitis
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Interstitial Cystitis symptoms

Because IC symptoms can be quite similar to those caused by other health conditions, accurate diagnosis should only be made by your doctor. Menstruation and stress are also known to aggravate IC symptoms, which could include the frequent and/or urgent need to urinate and discomfort or pain affecting the bladder, pelvis, penis, perineum, scrotum or sexual activity.

Typical causes

Although some foods (Alcohol, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, citrus fruit, potassium-rich food, some carbonated drinks, spicy food and tomatoes) have been recognised as causes for IC symptoms to flare up or worsen, healthcare professionals have been unable to identify the causes of IC and ongoing research still aims to provide suitable treatment options for patients.


Alongside a physical examination and a full review of a patient’s medical history, numerous tests must be performed to diagnose and to differentiate IC from similar urinary issues such as prostatitis, BPH and cancer. As well as biopsies of the bladder wall, cystoscopies, cytology and urinalysis, these tests could also include analysis of a patient’s prostate secretion and urine culture.

Interstitial cystitis treatment

IC is incurable and treatment is difficult (antibiotics have also proven ineffective), typically serving only to relieve symptomatic discomfort; treatment could include the enlargement, cleansing and/or training of the bladder, medicines, surgical procedures and the use of a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machine (usually used during childbirth).

Condition management

So as to reduce symptomatic discomfort, it’s believed (but unproven) that simple changes to a patient’s everyday lifestyle could be made. As well as avoiding the aforementioned drinks and foods, patients diagnosed with IC should exercise regularly, quit smoking and reduce their stress levels wherever possible; these steps reportedly alleviate symptoms for many suffering with IC.


To optimise IC treatment results, patients should consult their doctor to have expectations managed and to have any questions answered regarding IC, such as alternative approaches to treatment, diagnosis, follow-up appointments, medical guidance, overall outcome, prescribed medication, side-effects associated with treatment, symptoms and/or the various tests undertaken.

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