Interstitial Cystitis

yoga2Interstitial cystitis is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvis region. Interstitial Cystitis (IC) can range from mild intermittent pain, pressure or tenderness to intense pain in the bladder and pelvic region. Interstitial cystitis varies so much in symptoms and severity, that is considered a spectrum disorder. Usually there is significant urinary frequency and urgency associated with the pain, but not always. Urinary frequency alone, without bladder pain is not IC.

Interstitial cystitis is more common in woman than in men. People with IC find that their bladder cannot hold much urine, which in turn causes the frequency of urination. This is because the bladder wall has chronic irritation and can becomes scarred and stiff. A cystoscopy, or a look in the bladder with a camera, can help identify patients with IC. Glomerulations or pinpoint bleeding sites, often appear on the bladder wall. A biopsy can show an increase in “mast cells or inflammatory cells.” Hunner’s ulcers which are patches of eroded mucosa are present in 10% of bladders with IC. Sometimes the bladder can look surprisingly normal, even in extremely symptomatic patients.

Interstitial cystitis is a condition that is underdiagnosed, but is a diagnosis of exclusion. This means all other causes for the pain and urinary frequency must be evaluated before a true diagnosis of IC can be given.

What causes Interstitial Cystitis?

Some symptoms of IC resemble a bacterial infection, but urine tests will reveal no organisms in the urine. Furthermore, people with IC do not respond to antibiotic therapy. Many patients with IC have other associated conditions, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Fibromyalgia. Scientists believe that IC may be a bladder manifestation of a more general condition that causes inflammation in multiple organs of the body. The bladder pain of IC is from the micro-ulcerations of the lining that allow the toxins of the urine to seep into the bladder wall. This causes the histamines contained in the “mast cells” to be released causing inflammation and pain.

The Interstitial Cystitis Association is a tremendous resource to patients living with IC: