SymptomsThe symptoms of IC may include:
- pain, pressure or discomfort that increases as the bladder fills with urine
- pain in the lower abdomen or groin
- pain in the urethra and rectum
- pain in the vagina, for women
- pain in the testes, scrotum or perineum, for men
- painful sexual intercourse; for men, they may have pain with ejaculation
- a frequent need to urinate, even at night
- feeling the need to urinate right away
DiagnosisThe diagnosis of IC can be complicated. The first step is to take a urine sample to check for bacterial infection of the urinary tract. Tests may be done to see if the symptoms are being caused by another disorder, such as bladder cancer, vaginal infections in women, inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis) in men, sexually transmitted infections or kidney problems. Age-appropriate screening for cancers such as cervical, prostate, or colon cancer will be performed.
If no infection or other disorder is present, a doctor who is a urinary tract specialist (urologist) may look at the inside of the bladder using a cystoscopy and may take a sample of the bladder tissue (biopsy) to examine under a microscope. Finding pinpoint hemorrhages (glomerulations) or small patches (called "Hunner’s lesions") in the bladder tissue would support the diagnosis of IC.
TreatmentAt present, there is no cure for IC, nor is there one standard of treatment that is effective for everyone. Some medications that may relieve the symptoms of IC are Elmiron (pentosan), tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil (amitriptyline) and antispasmodic drugs, such as Ditropan (oxybutynin).
Some medications may be put directly inside the bladder by way of a tube (catheter) that is inserted through the urethra in to the bladder. DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is commonly given this way to treat IC. A catheter may also be used to fill the bladder with water and stretch it beyond its capacity (called "hydrodistention"). This type of treatment is done under anesthesia.
Some people with IC find that certain foods and beverages make their symptoms worse. Caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato products, spicy foods, coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages have been identified by people with IC as causing problems for them. Self-help techniques, such as stress avoidance and relaxation therapy, may also help reduce symptoms.