Understanding Interstitial Cystitis
No one likes to feel pain in their bladder. Unfortunately, some people have to deal with a chronic condition called Interstitial Cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder wall. Pain or pressure is felt on the bladder as well as the urge to urinate frequently. IC affects men and women and can range from mild to severe cases. However, women are 10 times more likely to have IC than men.
The cause of Interstitial Cystitis can be linked to many factors.
- A defect in the bladder wall that allows irritating substances in the urine to penetrate into the bladder
- A specific type of inflammatory cell releasing histamine and other chemicals that promote IC symptoms in the bladder
- Something in the urine that damages the bladder
- Nerves that carry bladder sensations are changed, so the pain is caused by events that are normally not painful (such as the bladder filling up)
- The body’s immune system is attacking the bladder
Unfortunately, diagnosis of IC can take awhile. It can be hard for doctors to pinpoint the origin of patients’ symptoms because they are close to those of a urinary tract infection.
- Pain during intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Urinary discomfort
- Urinary frequency
- Urinary urgency
Also, there is no cure for IC, but there is treatment. Diet modification is a natural way to treat IC. Certain foods that can cause bladder irritation:
- Aged cheeses
- Artificial sweeteners
- Citrus juices
- Cranberry juice (Note: Although cranberry juice is often recommended for urinary tract infections, it can make IC symptoms worse.)
- Fava and lima beans
- Meats that are cured, processed, smoked, canned, aged, or that contain nitrites
- Most fruits except blueberries, honeydew melon, and pears
- Nuts except almonds, cashews, and pine nuts
- Rye bread
- Seasonings that contain MSG
- Sour cream
- Sourdough bread
This doesn’t mean you should eliminate all these foods from your diet. Just try eating a limit amount each day. Or select a couple foods each day and then enjoy others the next. Doctors advise against eliminating these foods entirely from your diet. These foods contain great nutrients for you. IC sufferers should just be aware that they could cause a little added bladder irritation.
Even though IC is a lifelong condition, it’s manageable and treatable. People who have IC can also join support groups so they can relate share their struggles with people who truly understand what they are going through.