Ways To Ease Bladder Irritation And Interstitial Cystitis
Do you experience frequent trips to the bathroom and ongoing urinary bladder pain or constant sensation of pressure in the bladder? Of course the first thought might be that these symptoms are due to a urinary bladder infection. In many cases however, urinary testing reveals no infection is present yet these uncomfortable symptoms persist!
In this case, the likely cause of the ongoing discomfort is Interstitial Cystits.
Interstitial cystitis is irritation and inflammation of the bladder without an infection present. Often there are inflammatory changes present in the bladder in the form of small ulcers, sometimes however these cannot be seen. Naturopathic medicine has many options for treatment of interstitial cystitis and often a combination of dietary elimination and supplementation helps to improve and resolve the majority of cases.
Here are 3 approaches that work in my practice:
Causes Of Painful Urination
Several kinds of infection or inflammation can cause painful urination. These include:
- Urethritis and prostatitis. These two inflammatory conditions are the most frequent causes of painful urination in men.
- Vaginal infection, such as a yeast infection. Women who have a vaginal infection may notice vaginal odor, discharge and painful urination.
- Sexually transmitted infections. STIs such as chlamydia, genital herpes and gonorrhea can cause painful urination.
- Can be caused by:
- Irritation of the urethra from sexual activity or activities like bicycling or horseback riding.
- Irritation from douches, spermicides, bubble baths, soap or toilet paper with fragrance.
- Side effects of certain medications, supplements and treatments.
- Stones in the urinary tract.
- Vaginal changes related to menopause .
- Tumor in the urinary tract.
Possible Causes Of Interstitial Cystitis
No one knows what causes this condition, although there are many theories about the underlying factors that lead to interstitial cystitis. Some of the most common theories suggest that interstitial cystitis is an autoimmune, hereditary, infectious, or allergic condition, but none of these ideas have been proved.
Although some of the symptoms of this disease are similar to those of a bacterial infection, medical tests reveal no organisms in the urine and patients do not respond to antibiotic therapy. They do not have a urinary tract infection, but they feel like they do.
It is interesting that, in recent years, a substance found almost exclusively in the urine of people with interstitial cystitis has been isolated, and named antiproliferative factor because it appears to block the normal growth of cells that line the inside wall of the bladder. Diet
There is no scientific evidence linking diet to interstitial cystitis, but many doctors and patients find that alcohol, tomatoes, spices, chocolate, caffeinated and citrus beverages, and high-acid foods may contribute to bladder irritation and inflammation. Also, many patients diagnosed with interstitial cystitis feel that smoking makes their symptoms worse.
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Inflammation Of The Bladder: Why Does It Happen
The onset of painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis typically takes place in your 40s, although not exclusively. Symptoms usually start with a more frequent need to urinate, starting slowly and worsening over time. However, the symptoms and severity vary from person to person, and even among individual cases.
Sometimes symptoms are light and few in numbers, while other times they can be intense and copious. Because there is so much variance in symptoms, doctors believe the condition consists of a number of potential disorders.
Although it might feel like a urinary tract infection , its different because it isnt caused by an external infection. Instead, PBS/IC is likely caused by a compromise in the lining of the bladder. Its believed that the protective layer that coats the bladder , shielding it from the toxic effects of urine, becomes leaky and is therefore exposed to these toxins. It allows the chemicals in your urine to pass through, thus resulting in the pain and pressure so many with PBS/IC experience.
Another hypothesis is that some people have fewer protective bacteria along their bladder walls, thus leading to inadequate protection from the toxins and chemicals in urine. If this is the case, its possible that high levels of potassium in the urine penetrate the walls and lead to inflammation and damage in the surrounding muscle layers.
Symptoms Of Interstitial Cystitis
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis and painful bladder syndrome are pretty straightforward in that they often mimic those symptoms of a bladder infection, but without the infection:
- Bladder pain
- Bladder pressure
- Bladder fullness
As I look back on what my own symptoms and pain felt like, I’d describe it simply like this: remember when you were a kid and you’d skin your knee real bad? Then your parents or the school nurse would wash it out with an antibacterial solution that stung like crazy?! That’s what IC pain felt like to me, a constant stinging and burning feeling whenever a tiny bit of urine touched my bladder wall. This constant stinging discomfort left me constantly headed to the bathroom to relive the pain. But the problem is your body is always producing urine! It’s like a slow drip of pain all day long that becomes much worse at night because that’s when urine becomes more concentrated and acidic causing more irritation to the bladder wall.
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Increase Water And Fluid Intake
Frequent urination is a common symptom of interstitial cystitis. As a result, patients often restrict their fluid intake to reduce their urge to urinate. Drinking less water is not the solution, however.
Drinking enough clean, filtered water is essential for diluting the toxins and irritants in your urine. Getting enough water also helps interstitial cystitis patients decrease inflammation, flush the bladder, and reduce the acidity of their urine. Water can also relieve constipationâa potential trigger of interstitial cystitis.
Rather than drinking a glass or two of water at a time and immediately having to go to the bathroom, try sipping on your water throughout the day to reduce your frequency and urgency of urination.
Besides water, other good fluids to consume include homemade soups, bone broths, and freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices.
What Are The Symptoms Of Interstitial Cystitis
What is interstitial cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder problem caused by inflammation or irritation of the bladder wall. In IC, scarring of the bladder causes the bladder to stiffen, decreasing the amount of urine it can comfortably hold. IC is sometimes called bladder pain syndrome, or frequency-urgency-dysuria syndrome.
Symptoms vary greatly from person to person, ranging from mild to very severe. Symptoms may appear intermittently or become chronic.
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How Is Bladder Pain Syndrome Diagnosed
There is no one test to tell whether you have bladder pain syndrome. Your doctor or nurse will do a physical exam to look at your lower abdomen and lower back and ask you questions about your symptoms. Your doctor may give you tests to rule out other health problems, such as urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections , bladder cancer, or kidney stones.
Some tests your doctor may do include:
How Is Bladder Pain Syndrome Treated
There is no cure for bladder pain syndrome. But your doctor will try different treatments to figure out how to improve your symptoms.
The first treatment many people try includes steps you can take at home. Sometimes, by changing what you eat, you can make your symptoms go away. But even when symptoms do go away, they may return days or years later.
If your symptoms do not get better, other treatments your doctor may suggest include:10
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Eat Foods Rich In Magnesium
Foods that are rich in magnesium are known to be effective. Magnesium is helping in improving nerve function, reducing bladder muscle spasms. These foods include almonds, green vegetables, whole grains and fish. One study at Tel Aviv University in Isreal discovered that more than half of the women who took magnesium hydroxide pills twice a day had improvements in bladder health.
Protective Products for an Irritated Bladder
Cystitis In Men And Older People
Men tend to get cystitis later in life. Where trouble with urine flow is a symptom, this may indicate that the underlying cause is a problem with their prostate gland.
Cystitis is common in older people, particularly if they are unwell. Bladder catheters and some urinary-tract operations may also increase the risk of cystitis.
What Is Bladder Inflammation
Also called painful bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis is an inflammatory bowel condition that leads to pain, ulceration, and bleeding in the bladders lining. Its characterized by a frequent tendency to urinate that tends to be accompanied by pain or pressure. Following urination, the pain and pressure usually subsides.
Unfortunately, doctors arent sure what causes it. They have, however, determined that it is an independent conditionnot something caused by stress, psychological state, or another ailment. They have also determined that there is likely a series of conditions that fall into the PBS/IC category. PBS/IC is more common in people who have conditions like IBS, allergies, or fibromyalgia.
How Is This Condition Diagnosed
If you think you have a bladder infection you should talk with your healthcare provider. To help diagnose a bladder inflammation , you will typically be asked for a urine sample. Your urine will be collected in a sterile cup in a restroom at your providers office. You may want to avoid peeing right before your appointment so that youll be able to provide a sample during your office visit. Your provider will most likely do two tests on your urine: a urinalysis and a urine culture.
- Urinalysis: This test involves checking the appearance, concentration and content of urine.
- Urine culture: This test determines the type of bacteria causing the infection and to which antibiotics the bacteria is sensitive.
Your healthcare provider may also order additional testing if you continue to get bladder infections including an imaging test to look at your kidneys and a cystoscopy, which uses a special scope to look inside the bladder.
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Treatments For Interstitial Cystitis
Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for interstitial cystitis and it can be difficult to treat, although a number of treatments can be tried.
But no single treatment works for everyone, and there’s disagreement about how effective some of them are.
You may need to try several treatments to find one that works for you.
Medicines and other therapies may be used if lifestyle changes not help, and surgery may be necessary as a last resort.
What Helped Me The Most:
While the pain was bad, it gave me crazy motivation to get better. The small gains I saw over months and years, fueled my passion for nutrition and natural healing. All the pain I experienced in my twenties is one of the reasons this blog exists in the first place – I survived and lived to tell about it! Now I can eat anything I want without any interstitial cystitis restrictions . If I ever do get bladder irritation, which is usually only a few times per year which is usually from a mix of eating food with too many additives, I recover quickly from it .
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How To Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are unpleasant enough that most women will try anything to avoid getting one. Mann discusses some simple lifestyle changes that might help you prevent UTIs. These steps help reduce the chance of bacteria entering the urinary tract, which is the main cause of UTIs. Make sure to:
- Empty your bladder more often: Dont hold it when you feel the urge to go. Mann says that you should empty your bladder at least every four hours during the day. And urinating immediately after intercourse can help wash bacteria away from the urethral opening.
- Drink more water: Studies have shown people who drink more water are less likely to have recurrent urinary tract infections. Mann suggests that you drink at least 2 liters of water daily.
- Practice safer wiping and cleaning: Wiping from front to back helps avoid bacterial contamination. Avoid irritating feminine products with dyes, fragrances and parabens. Instead, wash with water whenever possible. And, please, dont ever douche unless otherwise advised to do so by your practitioner, says Mann.
- Try a different birth control: If you have repeated urinary tract infections, you may want to avoid using a diaphragm and spermicide, including spermicidal condoms. Talk to your doctor or clinician about other birth control options that can lower your risk for UTIs.
What Is A Bladder Infection
Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder thats generally caused by a bacterial infection. Bladder infections occur when bacteria from the area between the vagina/penis and rectum enter the urethra and travel into the bladder.
Bladder infections are the most common type of urinary tract infection . UTIs can occur in any part of the urinary tract in the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. They account for more than 8.1 million visits to health care providers every year. Approximately 60% of women and 12% of men will have at least one UTI during their lifetime.
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How I Reversed My Interstitial Cystitis
I’m surprised that in my 11 years of blogging, I haven’t told you this story yet. It took me some time to come to terms with my own internalized story with ‘invisible’ pain, and to really own my experience instead of minimizing and pretending it didn’t happen. For too long I associated pain with weakness, but now I realize how much stronger the pain has made me.
I was 21 when I first started experiencing symptoms of interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome. I was new to chronic pain, and had no idea the long ride I was in for…
Also, it’s important to note my interstitial cystitis did not occur in a vacuum, I had digestive issues too, which you can read about here
Frequent Or Painful Urination At A Glance
- Frequent or painful urination occurs when a person urinates more often than is normal for him or her and when urinating causes pain, burning or stinging.
- Painful or frequent urination is most often a symptom of another condition.
- Most treatments for these conditions treat the underlying condition or include behavioral changes a person can make to feel better.
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How Is Interstitial Cystitis Treated
Specific treatment will be determined by your physician based on your age, medical history, and preferences. Currently, there is no specific way to diagnose IC, and no cure for IC, making it difficult to treat. Thus, treatments are primarily focused on relieving symptoms, and may include:
- Bladder distension: A procedure aimed at increasing bladder capacity and interfering with pain signals that are being transmitted by the nerve cells in the bladder.
- Bladder instillation: Also called a bladder wash or bath. The bladder is filled with a solution that is held for varying periods of time, from a few seconds to 15 minutes, before being drained through a catheter.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation : Mild, electric pulses enter the body for minutes to hours two or more times a day either through wires placed on the lower back, or through special devices inserted into the vagina in women or into the rectum in men.
- Bladder training: Patient voids at designated times and uses relaxation techniques and distractions to help keep to the schedule. Gradually, the patient tries to lengthen the time between the scheduled voids.
Management of IC may also include:
How Can Irritants Affect Your Bladder
Bladder irritation develops due to inflammation of the bladder lining. Conditions that include bladder pain and irritation can consist of urinary tract infection and interstitial cystitis. Other conditions that cause urinary urgency or urgency incontinence may do the same. Weak pelvic floor muscles can also negatively affect your bladder.
For some people, consuming certain foods and exposure to some substances can trigger inflammation of the bladder. Urinary frequency, urgency, and pain are significant signs of bladder inflammation.
Bladder irritants irritate the bladder muscle. In turn, muscle contraction happens, followed by symptoms described above.
Youre wondering now why some foods irritate the bladder. This subject requires further research. Bladder irritants deserve more attention. The more we know, the easier it will be to treat the bladder problem.
Consumption of certain foods can create a fertile ground for inflammation and irritation. These foods can also trigger nerves that control frequency and urgency. This explains the symptoms of bladder irritation.
For the treatment of bladder problems, your doctor may suggest identifying potential bladder irritants. Learn more about them below.
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What Is The Outlook For People Sensitive To Bladder Irritation
If foods irritate your bladder, you may worry about finding enough to eat. SOME people with IC are able to eat and drink these foods:
- Alcohol or wines .
- Coffee or highly roasted.
- Extracts .
- Nuts almonds, cashews and peanuts.
- Onions .
- Sun tea .
- Tomatoes .
- Zest of orange or limes.
- Other foods not listed.
Changes In Your Reproductive System
Bladder pain in women may also be a result of thinning vaginal skin, says Karl Luber, MD, a urogynecologist and a founder of the female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery fellowship program at UCSDKaiser Permanente in San Diego.
This is called atrophy and it’s most common when menopause deprives the tissues surrounding the vagina of estrogen, he explains. Oral estrogen doesnt help, but a vaginal estrogen cream may ease symptoms.
Talking with your doctor about bladder pain and discomfort can help determine where the problem really lies, Dr. Luber says.
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