Interstitial cystitis is a urinary bladder disease, the cause of which is unknown to the science fraternity. However, several theories do exist which point towards it being an autoimmune, allergic, neurological, and/or genetic disease. What has definitely been established by various studies and research is that the quality of life for patients of interstitial cystitis compares to that of the end stage of renal failure. Regardless of the origin, interstitial cystitis leads to a damage of the bladder lining and also inhibits bladder cell proliferation, which in turn, have dangerous consequences.
Interstitial cystitis is characterized by frequent urination of as often as every ten minutes, urgency, and pain in the bladder or supra-pelvis region. Pain usually increases and decreases as the bladder fills up and empties and in some cases, even while urinating. Interstitial cystitis causes pelvic floor dysfunction making it difficult for patients to start their urine stream. Excessive urination at night, pain with sexual intercourse, difficulty in driving, traveling or working adds to the agony.
Some of the symptoms of interstitial cystitis can easily be mistaken for symptoms of a UTI often leading to a misdiagnosis. The presence of a sterile urine sample is very useful to rule out urinary tract and bladder infections.
Although the incidence of interstitial cystitis is higher in women,it can affect any individual of any age and strata of life. More and more, men are being diagnosed as having this condition belying the earlier belief that it was a condition of menopausal women only.
There are no definitive tests to diagnose interstitial cystitis and an assortment of diagnostic tests and procedures are necessary. These include analysis, culture, and cytology of urine, cystoscopy, where a flexible tube is inserted through the urethra for viewing with the aid of a viewing device, and examination of biopsy of the bladder wall, may be required. In men, a laboratory examination of prostrate secretions too may have to be done.
Interstitial cystitis does not respond effectively to antibiotics. Treatment of interstitial cystitis depends mainly on the age, health, and medical history of the patient. Consideration also has to be taken regarding tolerance to specific medication.
Managing interstitial cystitis requires certain diet modifications too although there is no scientific evidence to link it with diet. Alcohol, acidic foods, tomatoes, spices, and citrus beverages are known to aggravate bladder irritation. As such, to be on the safer side, it is better to remove such items from your diet.
Avoiding smoking and a regular regime of exercise can go a long way to give support to the strategy of urinary tract infection cure that the physician may resort to.