Do I Have Interstitial Cystitis Quiz
do i have interstitial cystitis quiz
Interstitial cystitis is a particular form of cystitis. Also known as chronic bladder pain syndrome, it is a chronic disease of the urinary bladder. It is caused by inflammation of the bladder wall. The signs are initially the same as those of a common bladder infection, but the symptoms of interstitial cystitis are much more severe and varied. In addition, the fluctuating course of the disease is characteristic of chronic bladder pain syndrome. The most significant difference to recurrent cystitis is that bacteria do not trigger interstitial cystitis. This makes diagnosis and treatment options more difficult. The clinical picture confronts many physicians with a mystery; the origin is still largely unclear. In principle, the disease can affect anyone, but as in the case of cystitis, it is primarily women who suffer from it.
Chronic bladder disease
Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder disease with pain and a strong urge to urinate. What exactly leads to this clinical picture has not yet been conclusively clarified.
In principle, various factors can play a role in its development. The spectrum ranges from general inflammatory processes, defective cells of the bladder lining, fragile vessels, and food intolerances to overactive nerve pathways of the bladder.
A cystoscopy may show typical changes in the bladder’s inner wall, such as fine tears (rhagades), ulcer-like lesions (Hunner’s lesions), and punctate hemorrhages in some affected individuals. However, these changes are unnecessary; cystoscopy is unremarkable in many people with interstitial cystitis.
Symptoms: the constant urge to urinate and hypersensitive bladder.
Typical symptoms of IC include:
- constant bladder and abdominal pain
- Persistent urination: possibly up to 60 trips to the toilet during the day and also at night
- constant urge to urinate
Various clinical pictures of the bladder are associated with some or all of the above symptoms. The overlapping of symptoms means that individual bladder diseases cannot always be clearly distinguished. For example, the symptoms of the so-called bladder pain syndrome (BPS) are similar to those of interstitial cystitis. Overactive bladder (OAB) also falls into this symptom group. The term hypersensitive bladder (HSB), in turn, is an umbrella term for various bladder problems.
As mentioned at the beginning, the symptoms of IC can also resemble a ‘normal,’ often recurring bladder infection.
Mostly affects Women
Women are nine times more likely to be affected by interstitial cystitis than men. Between 0.5 and 5 in 1,000 women suffer from it. Most of them are between the ages of 50 and 60. In principle, however, people, even children, and teenagers, can develop IC at any age.
Relatively often, interstitial cystitis is accompanied by other problems, e.g., rheumatic complaints, an exhaustion syndrome, or even depression. Many of those affected suffer enormously; others are socially isolated or even unable to work. However, it is assumed that interstitial cystitis is not a psychosomatic disease but that possible psychological changes result from the protracted illness.
Before a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis is made, those affected must undergo a whole series of tests and examinations. In particular, it is essential to keep a pain and micturition diary. Here, patients write down in detail when and how often they have pain or need to urinate. The diary helps the doctor better assess the symptoms’ extent and problematic nature in a detailed discussion.
The interview with the doctor and the physical examination thus form the basis of the examinations. In addition, a urinalysis is one of the basic tests. While bacteria often trigger a classic bladder infection, no germs can be detected in interstitial cystitis.
Ultrasound and Cystoscopy
In the case of chronic symptoms, an ultrasound is usually performed. This allows the bladder, kidneys, and ureters to be examined, i.e., the entire urinary tract system. During the examination, doctors also measure how much urine actually remains in the bladder after urination; they determine the so-called residual urine volume.
A cystoscopy may be performed if no cause for the pain is found. Here, a small camera is inserted into the bladder, which provides images of the mucosa. In addition, the doctor can take tissue samples and take a closer look at the bladder wall cells under the microscope. Sometimes further special tests are necessary, such as a stretching test with saline (hydrodistention test).
As a chronic, non-infectious bladder disease, interstitial cystitis, unfortunately, cannot be cured and rarely resolves spontaneously. Therefore, treatment aims to relieve symptoms as much as possible and slow progression. This starts with some things you can do yourself:
Clothing, diet & pelvic floor training
It is important to be well-informed about the disease and some accompanying conditions. Certain clothing, for example, can increase the pain of interstitial cystitis. Tight pants and uncomfortable clothing should be avoided. The same applies to some sexual techniques and sports.
Some foods can further increase discomfort. These include:
- Citrus fruits
- artificial sweeteners
- some types of coffee
- carbonic acid
- spicy foods
This is where diaries and trial-and-error elimination of individual problem substances can help.
The basic pillars of therapy also include controlled fluid intake, bladder training, physiotherapy and pelvic floor training, and relaxation techniques. Not forgetting the soul: possible depressive moods also need to be treated.
Medications for Interstitial Cystitis
Some medications are used for interstitial cystitis. These include, for example, an agent with the complicated name pentosan polysulfate (PPS). It can rebuild the bladder wall in some of those with bladder inner wall damage, promoting its blood flow and thus relieving symptoms.
Medications that are otherwise typically prescribed for depression may also help with IC in low doses.
Bladder irrigations, pain therapy & acupuncture
Another treatment option is bladder irrigation, where various substances are placed in the urinary bladder. These agents are components of the bladder’s inner wall, which basically ‘plug’ the defects created there while inhibiting inflammation.
In addition, anesthetics that are flushed into the bladder help. Traditional painkillers, acupuncture, microbiological therapy, neural therapy, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements can also be beneficial.
As a last resort, very severe cases of interstitial cystitis may be treated with surgery, in which affected individuals receive, for example, a urinary bladder replacement or a new urinary diversion. Of course, this is a major operation that can also involve complications. Surgery is therefore only considered if none of the previous treatments have helped and the level of suffering is very high.
Important tips and treatment options overview
- Pay attention to comfortable clothing, pleasant sexual techniques, and sports
- Physiotherapy and pelvic floor training
- avoid foods that aggravate the symptoms
- various medications (including PPS)
- painkillers and antidepressants
- bladder irrigation
- acupuncture, neural therapy, etc.
Interstitial cystitis is a complex clinical picture that is difficult to grasp. It often takes years for a diagnosis to be made. With rare diseases like IC, in addition to medical treatment, it can also help to network with other people affected to share experiences and realize that you are not alone with your symptoms.
We can provide you with some informational questions that may help determine if you should seek further evaluation for interstitial cystitis. However, it is important to note that only a qualified healthcare professional can diagnose interstitial cystitis (IC) and provide appropriate treatment!