Interstitial cystitis (IC) affects more than 1 million people in the U.S. The cause is unknown, but there are things we can do to help.
We know the urothelium (the cells that line the inside of the bladder) in IC patients is damaged and can inadequately serve as a barrier against noxious components of the urine.
What are the symptoms?
- Genital area pain,
- pain with intercourse,
- urinary urgency and frequent urination, and
- needing to urinate during the night.
Who does it affect? Mostly women.
What tests are used to diagnose interstitial cystitis? First, a physical exam, bimanual exam for females/rectal exam for males, and a urine specimen are tested. This is needed to assess if there is a genital or bladder infection, stone, or obstruction. If those tests are normal, a urology consult may be needed. There is a link to a questionnaire below which may help diagnose IC. The urologist may help with the potassium sensitivity test, the anesthetic bladder challenge, and perform a cystoscope. (A cystoscope is a lit camera placed into the urethra and up to the bladder which allows visual examination of bladder walls). During this exam the urologist may fill the bladder to distend the walls to see if this elicits pain.
Treatment options are oral medication (pentosan polysulfate sodium) , medications placed directly into the bladder (dimethyl sulfoxide) and dietary changes with supplements. The FDA has only approved the two above medications for IC. Antidepressants and allergy medicines have also been found to help decrease symptoms.
The O’Leary-Sant Symptoms and Problem Index is a
questionnaire that is available at http://www.ichelp.org/Page.aspx?pid=444
Hope this helps.