Also called ‘Painful bladder syndrome’, this is a condition characterised by the sensation of pain and pressure in the bladder area. Other symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain
- Pain with sex
- Pain with urination/full bladder
- Frequency/urgency of urination
- Recurrent symptoms of urinary infection
- Pain aggravated by certain foods/drinks or during periods
Symptoms of IC vary widely among women. While some women have debilitating symptoms every day, some have intermittent symptoms that wax and wane over weeks and months.
The exact cause of interstitial remains unknown. It is more common in women and is associated with other conditions like endometriosis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and lupus. Cystoscopy (camera to look directly inside the bladder) and a biopsy from the bladder may be necessary to diagnose the condition.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for IC. Treatment is aimed at avoiding aggravating factors and encouraging lifestyle alterations. These include reducing stress, avoiding certain food and drinks that act as bladder irritants such as alcohol, tomatoes, caffeine, smoking etc.
Medical therapies that may be tried include bladder instillation with medicines to reduce inflammation, antidepressants, antihistamine etc.
Surgical treatment is usually reserved for cases that do not respond to conservative treatment. The most commonly tried surgical treatment for IC is cystoscopy and cystodistension (distending the bladder with sterile fluid for a few minutes under general anaesthesia). The effectiveness of this procedure is unpredictable in women, and it may take weeks before improvement in symptoms is noticed.