What is Interstitial Cystitis?

November 12, 2012

What is Interstitial Cystitis?

This is a clinical syndrome that is characterized by an urgent immediate need to frequently urinate and it may occur with pelvic pain or without it.

The symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis vary between individuals. Cystitis refers to inflammation of the bladder and in comparison to cystitis that develops because of an infection of the bladder IC develops with no infectious bacteria being identified.

In approximately 90% of interstitial cystitis cases women are the most affected and 40 years of age and above is round about the average age of the development of IC. This is not considered to be a hereditary disease although cases have been reported with women suffering from this in the same families.

Reports have shown that the women who suffer with interstitial cystitis tend to have suffered from urinary tract infections on a frequent basis and they also have had previous gynaecologic surgery. This is in comparison to women who have not suffered from IC.

Interstitial cystitis has been classified into two forms, ulcerative and non-ulcerative. A cystoscopy which is a visual examination of the inside of the bladder using a probe is able to confirm the presence of ulcers in the lining of the bladder or not.

IC with the ulcerative form may be found in approximately 10% or less of cases in the United States. A worrying factor is that over a period of time IC may cause damage to the wall of the bladder.

At present no one appears to know the exact cause of IC but the researchers and doctors studying this illness do believe it is a real and physical problem. Research shows that IC is representative of a range of disorders rather than just one single disease.

Although many of the symptoms vary, many patients appear to report suffering from effects that are very similar to urinary tract infection symptoms. These symptoms include the urgent need to frequently urinate, pain, pressure and tenderness in the bladder, perineum and pelvic area as well as a decrease in the capacity of the bladder. Sexual intercourse and pain or discomfort in the scrotum and the penis has also been reported as well as frequency in urinating and pain in the pelvis. These symptoms may appear individually or a combination of the symptoms may be experienced.

Women who suffer from IC report that the symptoms become worse during menstruation and like many illnesses feelings of stress may actually make the symptoms feel worse. But stress levels cannot cause the physical symptoms of IC and the symptoms normally start slowly and needing to urinate often is an early indication of IC.

As interstitial cystitis symptoms are similar to other urinary tract system disorders and also there is no test to identify the presence of IC, other conditions have to be eliminated before making a diagnosis.

Identification of urinary tract infections includes urine analysis and urine culture. A cystoscopy and biopsy of the tissue in the lining of the wall of the bladder in women would be carried out. Males would have the prostatic secretions examined in laboratory conditions. Tenderness in the bladder area may also be experienced by men and women. To diagnose IC, laboratory tests would be carried out.

The main medication is a drug called PPS (pentosan polysulfat sodium) and the chemicals contained in this are similar to the tissue lining of the bladder. Many people report that using PPS helps in the restoring and repairing the lining of the bladder.

Along with using PPS (pentosan polysulfat sodium) the other oral medication that may be given to treat IC is anti-depressants that belong to the tricyclic family as this drug helps in the reduction of nerves within the wall of the bladder. This anti-depressant is given for this reason and not because IC is considered to be a psychological disorder.

Some patients may be prescribed antihistamines in an effort to reduce symptoms of an allergy that may be making the symptoms of IC worse.

About 20%-30% of patients with interstitial cystitis reported that distension of the bladder helped to lessen the symptoms associated with this condition.


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