Inflammation of the Bladder: What is it?

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Interstitial Cystitis and Bladder Pain

Your bladder is a hollow organ that is located in your lower abdomen. Its function is to store your urine. As your bladder begins to fill up, the muscles in the wall of your bladder will begin to relax, to allow for expansion.

On the other hand, as you urinate and your bladder is emptied, you’re the muscles in the bladder wall will contract to squeeze out all of the urine through your urethra.

Some individuals will experience pain and other bladder problems at some point in their lives. There are many reasons why this could happen. Three of the most common causes are as follows:

  1. Interstitial cystitis, or IC
  2. Urinary tract infection, or UTI
  3. Bladder cancer

Now, we will take each one of these common reasons for bladder pain and inflammation and explain them in more detail.

Interstitial Cystitis and Bladder Pain

The condition of interstitial cystitis, or IC, is a chronic one. In this condition, the bladder develops inflammation and irritation.

The inflammation causes the bladder wall to stiffen, which makes it hard for the bladder to be able to expand as it fills with urine.

This condition could possibly be due to a defect in the lining of the bladder. Women are at a greater risk than me to develop this condition.

A couple of the primary symptoms of the condition of interstitial cystitis are inflammation and pain. The pain is at its most excruciating when the bladder is full and will ease when you empty your bladder through urination.

The pain is typically felt in the abdomen, groin, and/or lower back. Individuals who suffer from the condition of interstitial cystitis often feel the urge to urinate much more often or the urge to urinate is an urgent one- however, when they do urinate, it is a much lower amount than others.

In addition, individuals suffering from this condition often have sexual problems as well.

A diagnosis of interstitial cystitis can be made once other conditions with similar symptoms have been ruled out.

Some of the other conditions include: vaginal infections, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.

Your physician will take the time to do a physical exam as well as take a medical and family history. He or she will probably ask you how often you urinate, how often you feel the need to go, and when you have pain.

The following tests will most likely be performed:

  1. Urinalysis
  2. Cystoscopy
  3. CT scan
  4. Ultrasound

There are many treatments available for the condition of interstitial cystitis from medications and/or physical therapy to surgery.

Surgery is the last resort- meant only for serious cases or cases where the more conservative treatments don’t work.

Urinary Tract Infection and Bladder Pain

Generally, your urinary tract is sterile. However, there are some times when bacteria will slip in through your urethra, which is the connection of your bladder to the outside of your body.

An infection located in the urinary tract can have an effect on any part of the urinary tract, from the kidneys, bladder, urethra, or ureters.

However, a urinary tract infection site is most often found in the bladder- which is known as cystitis. Again, women are at a much greater risk than men to develop the condition of a bladder infection.

Some of the most common symptoms of a bladder infection include the following:

  1. Pain while urinating
  2. Pain/tenderness in the abdomen
  3. Burning during urination
  4. Low-grade fever
  5. Cloudy/foul-smelling/bloody urine
  6. Urgent need to urinate

Your physician will collect a urine sample and test it to find out whether or not you are suffering from a bladder infection. These are fairly easy to treat.

Bladder Cancer and Bladder Pain

Last, but certainly not least, one of the common causes of pain and inflammation in the bladder is bladder cancer. Just as with other organs, cancer can develop in your bladder.

The most common form of cancer of the bladder is known as transitional cell carcinoma. This form of cancer begins in the innermost area of the lining of your bladder.

In addition to pain and inflammation, some of the signs and symptoms of the condition of bladder cancer include the following:

  1. Painful urination
  2. Frequent/urgent need to urinate
  3. Bloody urine
  4. Difficulty urinating
  5. Pain in the lower back

Following are a few of the tests that are often used during the diagnostic process for bladder cancer:

Cystoscopy: in this procedure, the physician will insert a cystoscope (a thin, lighted tube) into your bladder. During this test, the physician will remove samples of tissue from your bladder to check them for cancer. This is known as a biopsy.

In addition, your physician may perform what is known as a bladder washing in order to check for cancer cells. Another way that physicians check for cancer in the bladder is known as fluorescence

Imaging Tests: there are several imaging tests that can be used to take detailed pictures of the bladder. These include an MRI and/or CT scan.

These images will most likely be sent to a computer screen. Your physician will inject a specialized dye to help the bladder to show up clearly on the screen.

In addition, a process known as intravenous pyelogram, or IVP, can be used. In this process, a series of x-rays will be taken of your bladder, ureters, and kidneys. Your physician will also use a specialized dye for this process.

Urine Cytology: during this process, your physician will collect a sample of your urine and examine it under a microscope in order to check for any abnormal cells.

Urine culture and urinalysis: in this process, your physician will test a sample of your urine for bacteria and other indications that disease is present.

The treatment of the condition of bladder cancer will depend upon how far your cancer has spread and how aggressive it is. In most cases, surgery will most likely be recommended as well as chemo and/or radiation.