Treatment for Interstitial Cystitis: The bladder reports again, but you have only just been to the toilet. The extremely frequent urge quickly becomes unbearable. In addition, there is this severe pain in the lower abdomen that simply doesn’t want to go away. If you suffer from these symptoms permanently, you could be suffering from interstitial cystitis.
Interstitial cystitis, often abbreviated to IC (derived from the English term “interstitial cystitis”), is a chronic, non-bacterial disease of the bladder wall. To be more precise: The spaces between this wall are ignited throughout. Often at the beginning there is still the suspicion that it is a completely normal cystitis. But the complaints keep recurring and eventually become permanent.
Who is Affected?
Interstitial cystitis is rather rare. Nine out of ten patients are middle-aged women between 40 and 60 years of age. An estimated two to 16 out of 100,000 women are affected. Since the disease is difficult to detect, the number of unreported cases is probably higher.
What Causes Interstitial Cystitis?
The causes of interstitial cystitis are still unclear. So far it is only certain that in interstitial cystitis the deeper spaces in the bladder wall are inflamed. Why this happens is not known. Researchers suspect that the following factors can be triggers:
- Previous bladder infections have left their mark
- The bladder mucous membrane does not offer sufficient protection against external irritants
- Hormonal disorders
- A hidden infection in other organs
Those affected often suffer from allergies or autoimmune diseases at the same time , in which the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. Bladder wall disease may be a type of urinary bladder response to inflammation in the body.
What Are The Symptoms of The Disease?
At first glance, the signs of chronic inflammation of the bladder wall hardly differ from those of normal cystitis:
- Increased need to urinate, which is often difficult to suppress
- 30 visits to the toilet a day or even more, including at night
- Despite the strong urge to urinate, only a few droplets appear
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bladder pain relief usually only occurs shortly after urination.
It is only natural that getting up several times at night will result in a lack of sleep and tiredness during the day. Many sufferers also complain about:
- A headache
- Joint pain
- Gastrointestinal problems
The capacity of the bladder with IC is much smaller than normal. After just a few sips, pressure is felt on the bladder again. The symptoms are particularly severe after drinking coffee or consuming citrus fruits. Also stress of any kind increases the symptoms. Overall, the symptoms often last for weeks or months and vary greatly in intensity.
How Does the Doctor Recognize The Disease?
Since the doctors initially assume that the symptoms mentioned are normal cystitis, it often takes a long time before the diagnosis “interstitial cystitis” is made. All other diseases such as bladder stones or fungal infections must first be ruled out before the diagnosis falls on IC.
Interstitial cystitis is only possible if no bacteria can be detected in the urine sample that would indicate a conventional cystitis. Another factor: there are no white blood cells in the urine.
For easier diagnosis, those affected can keep a diary of their pain, the frequency of going to the toilet, the amount they drink (and the type of drink) and the amount of urine (technical term: micturition diary). If the suspicion of IC hardens, the following procedures in addition to the physical examination can provide further information:
- Ultrasound examination of the urinary tract (sonography)
- Bladder pressure and urinary stream measurement
- Cystoscopy with tissue examination
- X-ray of the bladder
- Interstitial cystitis: a urination diary brings clarity
Treatment for Interstitial Cystitis:
A small damper for those affected: A cure for interstitial cystitis is currently not possible. But there are several ways to make the symptoms bearable and stop the disease from progressing:
- Pain relievers relieve pain in the lower abdomen.
- Methods such as so-called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can also relax the pelvic muscles and thus reduce pain. The stimulation current therapy stimulates the nerves in such a way that they no longer transport the pain, or at least less intensively, to the brain.
- Douching the bladder causes the lining to rebuild to protect the bladder .
- Special drugs can reduce the urge to urinate (either taken orally – i.e. via the mouth – or introduced directly into the bladder via a catheter).
- Laser therapy of the inflamed bladder lining
- In very severe cases, surgery to dilate the bladder is necessary. The aim is to increase the capacity of the bladder.
What Those Affected Should Do in Any Case:
- A bladder training, in which the control over the bladder emptying is exercised
- Drink a lot so that the bladder and ureter are well flushed and germs have no chance of accumulating
- Avoid foods that irritate the bladder (drinks containing caffeine, acidic foods such as citrus fruits or white wine)
- Avoid nicotine
- Don’t stay too long in the cold
Acupuncture or autogenic training can also alleviate the symptoms. Special herbal blends from the area of traditional Chinese medicine also promise to alleviate symptoms.