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Interstitial Cystitis Pain – Symptoms, Causes, And Natural Ways To Manage It

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Interstitial Cystitis Pain – Symptoms, Causes, And Natural Ways To Manage It Hyderabd040-395603080 April 12, 2019

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is believed to affect as many as 12% of adult women (1). And this number is only increasing. This condition mainly affects the bladder and is more prominent in women.

If you have been peeing nonstop or if your bladder feels like it is never empty enough, beware. You could be suffering from IC. While these symptoms are quite similar to those of urinary tract infection, IC is not caused by an underlying infection like the former. Also, you cannot cure IC but can work towards reducing the severity of its symptoms. For more information on interstitial cystitis and how to manage it, continue reading.

Table Of Contents

What Is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a medical condition that is tough to diagnose. It is also referred to as painful bladder syndrome. IC is a chronic problem of the bladder.

Your bladder is responsible for holding the urine after it is filtered by the kidneys. Once your bladder is full, the pelvic nerves send signals to your brain that it is time to urinate. These signals get mixed up in those suffering from interstitial cystitis and may lead to a feeling of pain or pressure in the bladder and also cause pelvic pain sometimes.

This condition affects women more than men.

Interstitial cystitis can have many other symptoms in addition to the ones already mentioned. They are discussed below.

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Signs And Symptoms

The symptoms of interstitial cystitis usually vary from one person to another. It may also flare up in response to common triggers like menstruation, stress, and exercise.

The common symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis are:

  • Pain in your pelvic area or between the vagina and anus in women
  • Pain between the scrotum and anus in men
  • An urgent and persistent need to pee
  • Passing small volumes of urine frequently, say around 60 times daily
  • Discomfort when the bladder fills and relief post urinating
  • Pain during sexual interactions

These symptoms vary in their severity and can be mild to severe. Some affected individuals may also experience symptom-free periods of the condition. You may feel that these symptoms are due to a urinary tract infection. However, there is usually no infection associated with interstitial cystitis alone.

Although the exact cause of this condition is yet to be determined, doctors and researchers believe that multiple factors, like the following ones, could be contributing to the development of interstitial cystitis.

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Causes And Risk Factors

Individuals with interstitial cystitis may have a leak in the epithelial lining of their bladder. This may cause toxic substances to enter the urine and aggravate the symptoms.

Other possible (but unproven) factors that could be responsible for the development of interstitial cystitis are:

  • An autoimmune reaction
  • Allergy
  • Infection
  • Heredity – A family history of the condition

Some factors can increase your risk of developing interstitial cystitis. They include:

  • Gender – Women are at a higher risk than men.
  • Hair color and skin tone – Having a fairer skin tone and red hair has been associated with a greater risk of developing this disease.
  • Age – Those diagnosed with interstitial cystitis are usually 30 years or older.
  • Chronic pain disorder

As mentioned before, this condition could be quite difficult to diagnose. There is no specific test to diagnose interstitial cystitis. However, your doctor may rule out other conditions before confirming IC.

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Diagnosis

Your doctor may carry out the following tests to rule out conditions like sexually transmitted diseases, bladder cancer, kidney stones, and other conditions with symptoms similar to interstitial cystitis. They may include:

  • Urinalysis And Urine Culture – Testing the urine for infections.
  • Cystoscopy – Seeing the inside of your bladder and urethra using a camera attached to a thin tube.
  • Biopsy – Testing your bladder and urethra tissue.
  • Postvoid Residual Urine Volume – Testing the volume of urine post urinating using ultrasound.
  • Prostate Fluid Culture (men) – Pressing the prostate and testing the sample.
  • Bladder-Stretching – Your bladder is stretched/expanded with liquid or gas.

If you tested positive for interstitial cystitis, you must not delay in availing treatment. You must also be aware that this condition is not curable. The treatments mainly aim at managing the symptoms and coping with the disease.

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Treatment Methods

The medical approach towards treating interstitial cystitis may include :

  • Physical therapy for your pelvic muscles
  • Amitriptyline (drug) to control bladder muscle spasms
  • Hydroxyzine (antihistamine) will help if you pee a lot at night
  • Pentosan (Elmiron) to help rebuild the bladder tissue lining
  • Surgery may be required if other treatments fail to work.

There is also a range of natural remedies that will help manage the symptoms of interstitial cystitis. They are as follows.

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How To Manage Interstitial Cystitis Naturally

  1. Baking Soda
  2. Aloe Vera
  3. Vitamins
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Probiotic Yogurt
  6. Green Tea
  7. Ginger
  8. Garlic
  9. Turmeric
  10. Marshmallow Root Tea
  11. Rooibos Tea

Home Remedies To Manage Interstitial Cystitis

1. Baking Soda

Baking Soda Pinit

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You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 glass of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water.
  2. Mix well and drink up.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink this mixture once on the days your symptoms flare up.

Why This Works

Baking soda is alkaline. This alkalinity helps in neutralizing the acidity inside your body, thus reducing inflammation and other symptoms of interstitial cystitis (2).

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2. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera Pinit

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You Will Need

¼ cup of aloe vera juice

What You Have To Do
  1. Drink one-fourth cup of aloe vera juice daily.
  2. You can also take up to 500 mg of aloe vera supplements after consulting your doctor.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink aloe vera juice once daily.

Why This Works

Aloe vera is popular for its healing properties. It contains naturally occurring mucopolysaccharides, which makes it a great option for managing IC. It does so by replenishing the defective mucosal surface of the bladder (3).

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3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D Pinit

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You Will Need

20-25 mcg vitamin D

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume foods rich in vitamin D (specifically, vitamin D3) like fatty fish, cheese, egg yolk, shrimps, and mushrooms.
  2. You can also take additional supplements for this vitamin after talking to your doctor.
How Often You Should Do This

Incorporate the required amounts of vitamin D into your daily diet.

Why This Works

The activated form of vitamin D is known as calcitriol. Oral intake of vitamin D3 analog exhibits an anti-inflammatory effect that can reduce the symptoms of interstitial cystitis (4).

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4. Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Pinit

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You Will Need

1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil daily.
  2. You can also mix coconut oil with any essential oil and apply it topically to your lower abdomen.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Coconut oil possesses anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can help reduce bladder inflammation and pain (5).

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5. Probiotic Yogurt

Probiotic Yogurt Pinit

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You Will Need

1 small bowl of probiotic yogurt

What You Have To Do

Consume a small bowl of probiotic yogurt once in a while.

How Often You Should Do This

Consume it once in every 2 or 3 days for best results.

Why This Works

Probiotics exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the inflammation inside your body that may be caused by IC. They are also often used to combat urinary tract infections (6).

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6. Green Tea

Green Tea Pinit

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You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of green tea
  • 1 cup of hot water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add half a teaspoon of green tea to a cup of hot water.
  2. Steep for 5-7 minutes and strain.
  3. Drink the warm tea.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink green tea twice daily for optimum benefits.

Why This Works

Green tea is a powerful antioxidant and has significant anti-inflammatory properties, all thanks to its polyphenols (7). It can protect your bladder cells from further oxidative damage and stress.

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7. Ginger

Ginger Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of minced ginger
  • 1 cup of hot water
What You Have To Do
  1. Steep a teaspoon of minced ginger in a cup of water.
  2. After 5 to 7 minutes, strain the ginger tea.
  3. Consume the tea before it runs cold.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink ginger tea at least 2 to 3 times daily.

Why This Works

The active constituent of ginger is gingerol. This compound is anti-inflammatory and analgesic and can thus help reduce the pain and inflammation of your bladder (8).

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8. Garlic

Garlic Pinit

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You Will Need

2-3 peeled garlic cloves

What You Have To Do
  1. Chew on two to three garlic cloves daily.
  2. You can also add garlic to your favorite cuisines.
How Often You Should Do This

Consume garlic daily.

Why This Works

Garlic exhibits anti-inflammatory and protective effects when it comes to preventing the degeneration of the urinary bladder. It is another great remedy for managing interstitial cystitis and its symptoms (9).

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9. Turmeric

Turmeric Pinit

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You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 glass of hot water
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of hot water.
  2. Drink the mixture as required, not more than twice per day.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this when your symptoms begin surfacing.

Why This Works

The main constituent of turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant with significant anti-inflammatory properties that can help in managing the symptoms of interstitial cystitis and preventing further oxidative damage to your bladder (10).

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10. Marshmallow Root Tea

Marshmallow Root Tea Pinit

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You Will Need
  • Marshmallow root (as required)
  • Water (as required)
  • A jar
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a medium-sized jar and fill one-fourth of it with marshmallow root.
  2. Add warm water to it until the rest of the jar is filled.
  3. Steep for 4-12 hours.
  4. Strain the mixture and drink.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink 2 cups of marshmallow root tea daily.

Why This Works

The anti-inflammatory properties of marshmallow root can help soothe the inflammation and pain in your bladder (11).

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11. Rooibos Tea

Rooibos Tea Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of rooibos tea
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of rooibos tea to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer and strain.
  4. Once the tea cools down a bit, you can add some honey to it for additional flavor.
  5. Drink the tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this tea twice daily.

Why This Works

Rooibos tea possesses strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities that can help manage interstitial cystitis and also prevent further damage to the bladder (12), (13).

When it comes to managing the symptoms of interstitial cystitis naturally, your diet has an important role to play. The following is a list of foods you must avoid as they can trigger your condition.

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Diet Tips For Interstitial Cystitis

Avoid these foods:

  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Spicy foods like hot peppers
  • Cranberry juice
  • Tomatoes
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

Affected individuals must refrain from consuming too much food. Following a well-balanced and healthy diet is key to manage the symptoms of interstitial cystitis better.

Making some changes to your lifestyle can also help you manage interstitial cystitis. Listed below are some tips that can prevent your condition from deteriorating.

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Prevention Tips

  • Train your bladder to hold more urine – i.e., if you feel like urinating every 30 minutes, try and stretch it out to 45 minutes.
  • Manage your stress as it can be a trigger for interstitial cystitis.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Go for low-impact exercises like walking or stretching.
  • Quit smoking.

Given that interstitial cystitis has no cure yet, those affected by it should keep a strict check on their lifestyle and diet to prevent the condition from worsening. If you are already on medications, use these remedies and tips in conjunction with them, but only after consulting your doctor about the possible interactions between the two.

For further doubts or queries, use the comments box below to get in touch with us.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

When to visit a doctor for interstitial cystitis?

You must see a doctor for interstitial cystitis if your symptoms worsen and become unbearable.

How long does interstitial cystitis last?

The symptoms of interstitial cystitis may last anywhere from 3 to 14 days. In some people, these symptoms may become more frequent and need to be managed medically. Even though the symptoms may go away with medication, there is no treatment to cure this condition permanently.

How to tell the difference between urinary tract infection (UTI) and interstitial cystitis (IC)?

While UTI is the result of an infection, IC is not. As the symptoms of both these disorders are similar, your doctor may carry out a few diagnostic tests to rule out one of the conditions and confirm the other.

Is cranberry juice good for interstitial cystitis?

Although many swear by cranberry juice for treating interstitial cystitis, studies indicate otherwise. Many studies are of the opinion that citrus juices, like cranberry juice, may trigger interstitial cystitis flare-ups (14).

Should I exercise with interstitial cystitis?

While those with interstitial cystitis must avoid exercising vigorously, they can practice low-impact exercises like running and stretching to release stress.

References

  1. What is Interstitial Cystitis (IC)?”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. Dietary consumption triggers in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome patients”, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, US National Library Of Medicine
  3. Complementary and Alternative Therapies as Treatment Approaches for Interstitial Cystitis”, Reviews In Urology, US National Library Of Medicine
  4. Oral treatment with a vitamin D3 analogue (BXL628) has anti-inflammatory effects in rodent model of interstitial cystitis”, BJU International, US National Library Of Medicine
  5. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil”, Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library Of Medicine
  6. Probiotic intervention has strain-specific anti-inflammatory effects in healthy adults”, World Journal Of Gastroenterology, US National Library Of Medicine
  7. Antioxidant Effects of Green Tea and Its Polyphenols on Bladder Cells”, Life Sciences, US National Library Of Medicine
  8. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of [6]-gingerol”, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library of Medicine
  9. An aqueous garlic extract alleviates water avoidance stress-induced degeneration of the urinary bladder”, BJU International, US National Library Of Medicine
  10. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin”, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, US National Library Of Medicine
  11. Therapeutic effects of marshmallow (Althaea officinalis L.) extract on plasma biochemical parameters of common carp infected with Aeromonas hydrophila”, Veterinary Research Forum, US National Library Of Medicine
  12. Studies of anti-inflammatory effects of Rooibos tea in rats”, Pediatrics International, US National Library Of Medicine
  13. Anti-oxidative effects of rooibos tea extract on autoxidation and thermal oxidation of lipids”, Journal of Oleo Science, US National Library Of Medicine
  14. Painful bladder syndrome and interstitial cystitis”, The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Wiley Online Library

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