Interstitial Cystitis, Get the Facts

Get the facts. 

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition resulting in more frequent urination. It is chronic inflammation of the bladder. The average healthy adult urinates about seven times a day, and rarely at night. Someone with IC may urinate as many as sixty times a day, with several nighttime trips to the bathroom.

IC is not just about needing to use the bathroom more, it also causes chronic pain and discomfort. It leads to a sense of urgency and increased frequency of urination. This is because IC causes the lining of the bladder to scar, and the bladder to stiffen, meaning it is always partially contracted, and affects the way the bladder expands.

The symptoms are similar to what you would feel with a UTI. It worsens during menstruation for women and can make sexual intercourse and ejaculation painful. The pain is typically in the bladder and surrounding pelvic region and perineum. The sufferer usually feels a frequent or constant urge to urinate, and often goes in only small amounts.

Anyone can get IC, but it is most common in women. What can be done? Interstitial cystitis cannot be treated with antibiotics. There is no cure, but there are several treatment options.

There are known factors that increase the risk of developing IC such as:
  • Defect in the bladder lining.
  • Overproduction of histamine
  • Changes to the nerves inside the bladder
  • An autoimmune response where the body attacks its own organs and tissues.

There is no cure for IC, but treatment to relieve symptoms include:
  • Bladder distention. 
  • Bladder instillation.
  • Oral drugs.
  • Electrical nerve stimulation.
  • Surgery
Managing the effects is important. Because this is not a curable condition, and can cause great disruption to the life of the individual, coming up with a viable management plan to help reduce the impact of the symptoms is necessary. 

The first management tool is to use absorbent products. This will lessen the trips to the bathroom, and protect you from embarrassing leaks. It will allow the wearer to still function at work, home, and play with discretion. Choosing the right absorbent products is important for getting the benefits. Kimberly-Clarks consumer research shows the average consumer wastes over $130 the first time they buy absorbent products. It is easy to get confused about products, brands, styles, and sizes, as well as absorbency. Once a package is opened, it can’t be returned, making mistakes costly. In order to avoid making this costly mistake, try samples before buying cases. Samples can be purchased in sets of 4 for just $3.49. Call 800-985-1353 M-F 9-4 CST to talk to one of our product specialists.

The second tool is to modify your diet. IC is a chronic condition, but there are things that can worsen the symptoms. Caffeine, for example, is a diuretic, and should be avoided as it increases frequency and the urge to go. Some foods are triggers as they can irritate the bladder, this includes citrus, refined sugars, acidic foods (pineapple), and alcohol. Avoid bladder triggers for reduced symptoms.

Retrain your bladder. Because IC leads to a stiffer bladder, it is hard to control the urge to go, but trying to get on a schedule, and train your bladder can greatly increase your feelings of normalcy. Use a voiding diary to figure out when you go, then try to set a schedule giving you at least 30 minutes between bathroom breaks. Practice relaxation techniques and pelvic muscle strengthening exercises as you strive to only go on schedule.

Most importantly, if you suffer from interstitial cystitis, work with your health care professional to find the treatment and management options that work best for your condition’s severity.

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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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