What is Interstitial Cystitis and How Can it be Managed?

Interstitial Cystitis—also known as “Painful Bladder Syndrome—is a serious chronic condition whose symptoms include pain and discomfort in the bladder

Interstitial Cystitis  – also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome and by the acronym IC/PBS — is a chronic condition characterized by discomfort in the bladder ranging from mild to severe and is often accompanied by the frequent need to urinate, bladder spasms, and/or pain in the general area of the bladder.

More than 12 million Americans suffer from IC/PBS, according to the Interstitial Cystitis Association. Unfortunately, there is no simple explanation for this condition. The exact cause of interstitial cystitis isn’t known, but it’s likely that many factors contribute. Additionally, some of the symptoms of IC overlap with those of other conditions, including urinary tract infections and bladder cancer. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that “because symptoms are similar to those of other disorders of the bladder and there is no definitive test to identify IC/PBS, doctors must rule out other treatable conditions before considering a diagnosis of IC/PBS.”

Managing Interstitial Cystitis
Untreated IC/PBS can be very difficult to live with. According to the Urology Care Foundation, without treatment, IC/PBS symptoms make it hard to get through your day or even be able to work. It also may affect your relationship with your spouse and family, and rob you of a good night’s sleep.

While there is neither a cure for IC/PBS nor a simple method of treatment that’s proven to be effective, many treatment options are available. Oral medication options include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, and tricyclic anti-depression drugs. Cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug, has recently shown some promise in treating IC/PBS. Other treatment options include biofeedback, direct electrical nerve stimulation, acupuncture, and physical therapy. Surgery, however, is not currently a favored option because of the risk of complications.

If you believe that you are suffering from Interstitial Cystitis, it’s best to consult with your primary care physician, who may need to refer your case to a specialist, such as a urologist, gynecologist, or another professional familiar with the condition. Your medical history, plus a range of tests, may be necessary to establish whether IC/PBS or another condition is the source of your discomfort. Seeing your doctor now than later maximizes your chance of finding a successful solution to your problem.

In the meantime, if urine leakage is a problem associated with your condition, consider protection to help alleviate your embarrassment and discomfort. To protect chairs, beds, and other surfaces against leakage, there are reusable, washable underpads and bed pads; these come in range of absorbency and odor control options.  Similarly, there are washable briefs for men and washable panties for women, both of which are capable of containing and concealing any leakage from detection, as well as disposable pads and liners that are both discreet and comfortable to wear.  These products can all provide important day-to-day protection for you as you explore your treatment options for IC/PBS.