What is Interstitial Cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis or sometimes referred to as painful bladder syndrome, are the names given to a bladder condition which has the symptoms of bladder pain and pressure with a need to urinate frequently and in some cases urgently. The condition is reported to be 2 to 3 times more common in women than men.
Common findings with Urological investigations in people with interstitial cystitis include an inflamed and painful bladder wall, which may bleed easily when filled. In certain individuals the bladder wall may have ulcers present which can result in pain, urgency and frequency of urination. In severe cases the bladder wall can scar and stiffen which can result in the inability to hold an adequate volume of urine in the bladder.
Painful bladder syndrome is the term given when on urological investigation there are no abnormalities visible and there is no infection.
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis can vary for each individual person from mild symptoms that may come and go to more severe symptoms that can greatly affect your quality of life.
Treatment is based on the severity of a person’s symptoms.
The cause of Interstitial cystitis is not currently known however in a large percentage of people with IC it is known that the protective layer which lines the bladder (GAG Layer) can be described as “leaky”, which may result in urine and irritants in the urine irritating the bladder wall which may cause IC.
Possible other causes that have been identified in some individuals with IC include an increase in histamine that may lead to symptoms, changes in the nerves that transmit bladder sensations, a condition which is similar to autoimmune conditions whereby the body’s immune system attacks the bladder.
Common symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial cystitis may cause the following symptoms:
- Discomfort, pain, tenderness, constant feeling of pressure in the bladder or lower pelvic area, particularly when the bladder fills. Women may also feel pain in the vaginal, vulval and perineal area while men may experience pain in the scrotum, testes or penis.
- Urgent need to urinate – may be during the day and night, for some people the feeling of urgency is constant.
- Frequent need to urinate – may be during the day and night
- Reduced bladder volume
- Discomfort or pain with sexual intercourse
Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis
Currently there is no medical test that can confirm that an individual has Interstitial cystitis or Painful bladder syndrome. The following are some assessments the Urologist will utilise in order to confirm a diagnosis:
- Full medical and urological patient history
- Urology symptom questionnaires
- Bladder diary
- Mid stream urine testing
- Baseline bladder scan
- Flexible cystoscopy
- Urodynamic evaluation
Currently there is no clear causes of interstitial cystitis nor standardised methods for diagnosing the condition, however if an individual has typical symptoms and other bladder diseases have been ruled out, IC/PBS may be suspected.
Treatments provided by our Practice
Treatment for IC/PBS may be different for each individual; one treatment does not work for all. Therefore treatment is based and targeted towards each individual persons symptoms and the severity of their condition. A variety and sometimes combinations of treatments may be required in order to achieve good symptom control for each individual. Symptom control can take time and cure isn’t necessarily achieved, however for most people symptoms can improve to a level that their quality of life and the ability to lead a normal life can be achieved.
Conservative management/Non-surgical treatments
- Lifestyle and behavioural changes – urological nursing support and education including referral to allied health professional where required.
- Oral/Tablet medications
- Bladder instillations – medications or products instilled into the bladder via a catheter (tube placed into the bladder)
- Bladder distension
- Cauterisation (diathermy) of ulcerated areas in the bladder
- Botox injections
- Sacral neuromodulation
Our practice specialises in the complete care and treatment for interstitial cystitis, from initial assessment and diagnosis to ongoing care and treatment.