Interstitial Cystitis

What is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a condition that affects the bladder. It is often also referred to as painful bladder disorder. The bladder is the organ that stores urine until it is expelled from the body. Its functions and actions are controlled nerves and muscles that surround the organ.

When a person suffers from interstitial cystitis, it means that there is a disruption in the signals sent via the nervous system. The result is a chronic condition that causes a person to feel pain or pressure on the bladder. Interstitial cystitis causes a wide variety of symptoms and often varies in severity from mild to severe. It is also quite disruptive to a person’s life when they feel a constant need to urinate or pain associated with urination.

Interstitial cystitis may have numerous causes. However, those exact causes have not been determined. There may be defects in the bladder itself, like the epithelial lining of the organ that could contribute to the development of the condition, for example. It is also possible that it has to do with something in a person’s urine that could cause irritation or the immune system malfunctions and attacks the bladder or associated systems.

What are the Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?

There are many symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis. The primary symptom of this condition is having an urgent need to urinate which can disrupt sleep, work, or other elements of life. Pressure and pain in the bladder can be constant or may only occur as the bladder fills up.

General abdominal pain, lower back pain, or pelvic region could also be a sign of interstitial cystitis. Women with the condition could experience pain during sexual intercourse while men could experience pain after sex or when they have an orgasm.

How is Interstitial Cystitis Treated?

Prescription and some over-the-counter medications can help to treat the symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can help with the pain a person experiences while antihistamines may help with the urge to urinate. Prescription medications may be able to help treat problems in the bladder that may have caused the condition.

Alternatively, nerve stimulation treatments, bladder distension (expanding the bladder), or surgery could all help to treat interstitial cystitis.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017