Identifying Interstitial Cystitis

If you or someone you know is dealing with bladder pressure or pain, you won’t want to miss our latest blog. Our goal is to identify interstitial cystitis by exploring how the urinary system works, what the condition entails, and common symptoms to be mindful of. Continue reading below to learn more!

The Role of The Urinary System

Our urinary tract is a highly efficient mechanism that helps our body maintain balance. It’s responsible for removing excess fluids and waste from our bodies. It is made up of several vital organs, including the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra, each serving an essential purpose. The kidneys, located on each side of the spine, filter blood and produce urine. The urine then travels down the ureters to the bladder, where it’s stored until it’s eliminated from the body through the urethra. If you experience pain during urination, frequent urination, or pelvic pain, we advise speaking to a healthcare professional.

Understanding interstitial cystitis - cartoon image depicting inflamed bladder.

Understanding Interstitial Cystitis 

Interstitial cystitis (IC), or painful bladder syndrome (PBS), is a  chronic condition characterized by pressure and pain in the bladder or pelvis, as well as a frequent and/or urgent need to urinate. It’s important to note that symptom severity will vary from person to person. While the condition  affects women, men, and children of all ages, approximately 90% of IC cases are found in adult women.

Due to similar symptoms, IC is frequently mistaken as a urinary tract infection, but they are different in nature. A UTI is caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and infecting the bladder, urethra, or kidneys. On the other hand, interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the bladder lining. So, while symptoms may be similar, IC symptoms will often persist for longer and additionally include pelvic pain. Thankfully, both conditions can be managed with proper diagnosis and the right treatment plan.

What Causes Interstitial Cystitis?

Although the exact cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown, several factors may contribute to its development. These may include a defect in the protective bladder lining, a dysfunction in the immune system, and nerve damage that affects bladder function. Other contributing factors could include genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalances, and an overactive pelvic floor.

Diagnosis and Treatment of IC

To diagnose this condition, a doctor will first gather information about the patient’s medical history and symptoms. As well as perform a physical exam. A doctor will typically rule out other common causes of similar symptoms, like a UTI. In some cases, more advanced testing, such as a cystoscopy or bladder biopsy, may be necessary. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment options are primarily focused on symptom management and may include dietary modifications, pelvic floor physical therapy, medication, and nerve stimulation. While interstitial cystitis is not curable, many people are able to achieve relief through a combination of treatment approaches. It’s important for patients to work closely with their healthcare provider to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses their unique needs.

Connect with us to discover research studies in Seattle.

At Seattle Clinical Research Center, we currently have multiple studies enrolling! To learn more about interstitial cystitis studies and if you’re eligible to participate, visit our website or contact us at (206) 522-3330 extension 2. There’s nothing to gain from bladder pain – be proactive about your health!