What are the causes and treatments for interstitial cystitis?

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Inflammation of the bladder occurs when the tissues and muscles surrounding the bladder organ become inflamed and/or stiffen. This can result in severe pain that may or may not be relived with urination. There are several different conditions that will cause inflammation of the bladder, such as bladder cancer or a urinary tract infection, but one of the most common is interstitial cystitis.

What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic inflammation of the bladder that affects more women than men. The bladder can become inflamed, and even stiffen, making urination painful.

Because of the inflammation it also sends the wrong signals to the brain through the pelvic nerves causing frequent urination, but in very small amounts. The pain occurs when the bladder is perceived as full, but is mostly relieved upon urination.

There is no cure for interstitial cystitis but there are treatments and medications that can help provide relief for the condition.

What are the symptoms of inflammation of the bladder?

Interstitial cystitis can cause pain in the abdomen and pelvic area. When the bladder is full it is very painful and the area is tender to the touch. Relieving the bladder can reduce or eliminate the pain, but that can also be painful as well. It is not uncommon for painful sexual intercourse to be a sign of the condition if there are no other noticeable symptoms.

Could it be a sign of anything else?

All of the symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis and lead to an inflammation of the bladder could very well be indicators of another condition. The worst will be bladder cancer, but very often it can be a urinary tract infection as well.

Since the pain is often located in the pelvic area and abdomen, the irritation of the bladder can also be caused by other disorders and illnesses occurring in the area.

This is why it is important not to self-diagnose but to seek medical attention for a diagnosis. From there you can decide with your doctor whether self-treatment or medical treatment is appropriate for your inflammation of the bladder.

inflammation of the bladder

What causes it and who is at risk?

More women than men have an inflammation of the bladder that is caused by interstitial cystitis. The average age that the disorder develops is in the mid-30s. While there are no racial or socio-economic markers, it should be noted that there is a correlation between women who have a condition that causes chronic pain and the development of interstitial cystitis. There is also some evidence, but nothing conclusive, to suggest that heredity might play a role.

Many researchers think that having an autoimmune disorder makes you more susceptible to this disorder as the nature of the inflammation cannot be appropriately handled by the body when it is already compromised. One theory that has more proof than others as far as the direct cause of the disorder is that the protective lining of the bladder has become compromised. This compromised lining then allows for the toxins in the urine to contaminate the organ of the bladder which leads to an inflammation and autoimmune response.

What can interstitial cystitis lead to?

There are some serious potential complications that can arise from having chronic inflammation of the bladder. Over time, the volume capacity of the bladder can be reduced which can lead to more frequent need for urination and for loss of bladder control. There is also a high risk for a loss of quality of life, sexual dysfunction and depression.

What are the treatments for inflammation of the bladder?

There really isn’t a simple solution or treatment for inflammation of the bladder. Some people can experience relief through lifestyle and diet changes, or by taking certain antihistamines to reduce the swelling. For others, there may be a need for steroidal medications that may have to be given orally, or introduced to the bladder directly. Many people have experienced temporary relief from having the bladder distended with water or gas during a procedure. The effects of the distension can increase the volume that the bladder can hold and last for several months. There are also surgical options available.

How will my doctor test for interstitial cystitis?

The diagnostic procedure for interstitial cystitis is complex. Your doctor will ask you to keep a diary of urination which will also include notes about your diet, lifestyle and over all well-being. They may also test you for potassium sensitivities, allergies and perform a biopsy on the bladder tissue. This is done to help eliminate any other disorders or diseases, such as bladder cancer, from being mistaken for interstitial cystitis.

Once your doctor has diagnosed you as having interstitial cystitis they will begin to work to find the right treatment for you. While there is no known cure, there are many treatments that can provide effective relief. While you are working to find the correct treatment for your condition, you will also be engaged in pain management and self-management practices to reduce the impact that a chronic inflammation of the bladder has had on your life. Very often, with proper pain management practices, the need for medications can be radically reduced as discomfort and pain are relieved.

Should I try the home remedies before seeing my doctor?

If you are suffering from inflammation of the bladder you should see your doctor as soon as possible. While there are many home remedies that can help to relieve the inflammation you need to rule out that the cause is not a urinary tract infection or bladder cancer. Also, if you do have interstitial cystitis, you may need one of the more advanced treatments to reduce the risk of it occurring again. Learning when you should self-treat chronic pain and when you should seek medical attention is something that you need to learn the basic guidelines for. It will vary from person to person, so work with your doctor to set up your own guidelines that work for you.

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