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Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome, is a chronic inflammation and painful condition of the bladder that causes frequent, urgent, and painful urination and pelvic discomfort.

The condition occurs when the natural lining of the bladder breaks down, allowing toxins to irritate the bladder wall. Eating or drinking foods and beverages that irritate the bladder, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, spicy foods, and alcoholic beverages, may increase your chances of developing interstitial cystitis.

Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis

The symptoms of interstitial cystitis are urinary frequency, urgency, chronic pelvic pain, chronic vulvar pain, chronic urethral pain, and/or abdominal discomfort during urination and sex. It can feel like a bladder infection.

While there are no specific risk factors for interstitial cystitis, developing the condition may be influenced by a person’s genes, so having a blood relative with interstitial cystitis may increase your chances of developing it.

Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis

While there is no definitive workup, your physician will take your medical history and conduct a physical exam along with urine tests to rule out other causes of bladder pain. Some practitioners may believe that IC is present if symptoms are there and there are no other causes for the symptoms.

Some tests your doctor may perform include:

  • Cystoscopy: Some doctors feel it is necessary to look at the lining of the bladder and rule out other problems, such as cancer. It may show areas of bleeding or ulcers which would then get biopsied to rule out bladder cancers.
  • Urodynamic studies: This test uses a small catheter to fill the bladder and measure bladder pressures as the bladder fills and then empties. Usually people with IC are found to have a small bladder capacity and pain with filling.

Treatment for Interstitial Cystitis

There is no cure for interstitial cystitis. The goal is to relieve symptoms. Other than dietary and lifestyle changes, there are 2 FDA-approved treatments: Elimiron® (pentosan polysulfate), an oral medication, and dimethyl sulfoxide infusions into the bladder through a catheter once a week for 6 weeks. Maintenance infusions may be needed afterward at longer intervals. Discuss with your physician the best treatment for your IC.

Miami urologist Dr. Marvin Bondhus sees and treats patients with interstitial cystitis from throughout Miami-Dade County. For a consultation, call (305) 661-9692 or use our secure online appointment request form.