What is Interstitial Cystitis?

Pelvic pain

When I first began working for Dr. Spurlock seven years ago I had never heard of Interstitial Cystitis, the chronic bladder condition that causes bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pelvic pain and incontinence. Many of our patients had never heard of it, either and when they came in were full of questions, doubt, and a sense of hopelessness. However, we were able to give them answers to those questions and the tools and information to manage their Interstitial Cystitis. 

First observed by a Philadelphia surgeon in 1836, the history and diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis has not always been clear. No one knows the extact cause I.C. but it could be caused by several factors including an autoimmune response, hereditary, or a defect in the lining of the bladder. While the cause is unclear, there are several ways to manage the symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis, but before we get there, let's discuss how a normal bladder functions. 

Your bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that stores urine. The baldder expands until full and then signals your brain that it's time to urinate, communicating through pelvic nerves. This usually signals the urge to urinate in most people. With Interstitial Cystitis, the signal gets mixed up and  you feel the need to urinate more often and with smaller volumes than most people. 

Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis can vary from person to person and if you have I.C. they may vary over time, periodically flaring in response to common triggers such as menstruation, stress, exercise, and sexual activity.  These symptoms and signs of Interstitial Cystitis can include: 

Some people experience symptom-free periods and only flare when something triggers the I.C. symptoms to start up again. It is important to get a proper diagnosis as signs and symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis can mimick those of a urinary tract infection. In fact, many of our patients come in with frequent UTIs that turn out to no be infections after all, but undiagnosed Interstitial Cystitis. 

Complications from I.C. can include reduced bladder capacity, lovwer quality of life, sexual intimacy problems, and mental health problems. But we are here to help with all of it. There are several treatments available to help manage I.C. symptoms including behavioral modifications such as changes to your diet, in-office bladder instillations, and prescription medications. If any of these symptoms sound like something you're dealing with, but haven not found all the answers you're looking for, please give us a call and schedule an appointment! We accept most commerical insurance plans and Medicare. Relief is out there and we can help! 

Author
Katie Rymon Katie is the office manager for Allure Medical Spa and Laser Center and the Continence Management Institute. She has two small children and in her free time enjoys running, reading, and baking.

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