Honestly, I am not really sure myself what IC is but I’ll try and explain it as simply as I can. This is how I have explained it to my family and friends so there is nothing scientific or groundbreaking.
Interstitial Cystitis (in-ter-stish-uhl), or IC as it’s commonly known, is chronic inflammation of the bladder wall. It is also sometimes referred to as Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS).
Most IC patients have recurring pelvic pain, pressure, or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region and also urinary frequency and urgency. Some patients will urinate sixty times a day and pain can be likened to that experienced by cancer sufferers. There is a statistic flying about that 56% of sufferers are unable to work due to the debilitating symptoms.
The cause of IC is not yet known and sadly, there is no cure.
There are treatment options available that hope to reduce symptoms. Some of these treatment options are;
– Diet modification. A lot of sufferers will adopt the “IC Diet”. I would describe it as a very boring, restrictive and heartbreaking diet. Goodbye all the things I love to eat, hello bland and boring food.
– Painkillers and/or Antihistamines. Over the counter and prescription. Many come with side effects. I’ve definitely had some “out of body” experiences.
– Tricyclic Antidepressants. Amitriptyline is a popular one. It is used for many chronic pain conditions and isn’t used as an antidepressant in this circumstances. It works on numbing the nerve endings that cause pain.
– Bladder Distention. Most definitely did not work for me but some people report a reduction in their symptoms albeit temporary.
– Bladder Instillations. A course of treatment over several weeks (or longer) where a medical solution is placed directly into your bladder using a catheter. Most aim to try and repair the damaged lining of the bladder.
– Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy. It is believed 70% of IC sufferers have pelvic floor dysfunction.
This list is not exhaustive and there are other treatments available. It is important to remember that none of these treatments are a cure and are aimed at a reduction in symptoms. What works for one person, won’t work for another and sometimes treatments can make symptoms worse. Some patients can go into “remission” and their symptoms completely disappear. When all treatment options have failed, bladder removal is considered as a last resort.
There is an estimated 400,000 people in UK with IC, of whom approximately 90% are females and 10% are males.