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The symptoms of a urinary tract infection can be mimicked by a chronic bladder disorder called interstitial cystitis (IC for short), also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS). As a matter of fact, more than two-thirds of all IC / PBS sufferers have a history of UTIs.
In this insidious disorder, the urinary bladder is overly sensitive (a “touchy bladder”). The predominant symptom is pain in the pelvic area in form of discomfort, pressure, soreness and tenderness due to a chronic inflammation of the bladder lining.
The pain and urgency can be very extreme and severe, making work, sexual activity, and normal social functioning difficult, or just impossible.
Believed to be an autoimmune condition, interstitial cystitis / painful bladder syndrome may stay about the same or get worse with time. Some women may go into remission for extended periods.
Unlike ordinary bladder infections, the cause or, rather, the causes of IC / PBS continue to baffle medical researchers. It is believed that mysterious, chronic pelvic pain condition may be the result of:
Several other disorders that are associated with IC / PBS include:
Although interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome is most common in women, it can also occur in men and children.
Women outnumber men by as much as eight to one. The current estimate is that 3 to 8 million women suffer from this mysterious and insidious disease. Most women are diagnosed in their early forties.
There is still no evidence that stress causes IC / PBS in the first place. However, it is well-known that if a person has it, physical or mental stress can make the symptoms worse.
Here’s the good news about interstitial cystitis though:
For some women, the symptoms improve or disappear during pregnancy. For other women, they get worse. But it does not seem to affect fertility or the health of a fetus.
As medical experts still do not know what causes IC / PBS, there is no a standard test or technique that can say a person has it. Your doctor can only rule out or treat the other related conditions such as:
Also, there is no a definitive test to say a person does not have interstitial cystitis.
To make a diagnosis, your physician will have first to decide whether the symptoms are typical of IC / PBS. Next, he or she will need to rule out other health issues, as the ones mentioned above, that might be causing the symptoms.
Some believe that IC / PBS is present if a patient has symptoms and no other cause for those symptoms is found. Others think that more tests are needed to find out whether the patient has IC / PBS.
A number of standard diagnostic tools include:
A urine sample is studied under a microscope to check for blood or bacteria in the urine which may indicate urinary tract infection, urinary tract stones or other urinary problems.
A urine sample is studied to determine if there are any pathogenic bacteria growing in it. The bacteria are then tested to determine which prescription drugs will most effectively treat them.
An examination of the cells from the bladder lining that are in the urine.
This is the main standard diagnostic tool for interstitial cystitis. The procedure allows the urologist to look directly into the bladder. A thin, flexible tube called a cystoscope is gently inserted into the bladder through the urethra.
Cystoscopy with hydrodistention (the bladder stretch)
In this procedure the bladder is hydrodistended, that is first stretched or filled to a high pressure with fluid. Then, the urologist examines the inside of the bladder for tiny irritated, bleeding hemorrhages – called glomerulations – on the bladder wall.
Glomerulations, also known as petechial hemorrhages, in the bladder are a major symptom of IC / PBS in 95 percent of patients. Their presence suggests that the bladder wall has been damaged, irritated and/or inflamed.
It should be notated, however, that glomerulations are associated only with some types of interstitial cystitis.
There is no medicinal cure for interstitial cystitis / painful bladder syndrome, but many medical treatments offer some relief, either singly or in combination. Figuring out what works can be hit-or-miss, as there is no way to predict who will respond best to which treatment.
IC / PBS medical treatments, aimed at easing symptoms, may include:
Bladder enlargement (augmentation)
It is an operation to make the bladder larger and increase its capacity. It can also lower the pressure in the bladder (making it more elastic) and interfere with pain signals sent by the nerve cells in the bladder.
The bladder stretch (hydrodistention)
This outpatient, one-day-stay procedure, however, is not only used for the diagnosis, but also for the treatment of interstitial cystitis. In most cases, it is done with general anaesthesia, as local anaesthesia is very uncomfortable for patients with a very painful bladder condition.
Most women (80 percent), however, experience worsening of the pain afterwards, especially upon waking up. For the pain to go slowly away, it usually takes 2-3 weeks.
Also, in a few days following the procedure, there is a risk of developing a urinary tract infection. A urine test then is done, and possibly a course of antibiotics administered immediately.
If the IC / PBS symptoms return after the initial hydrodistention the procedure can be repeated, as some women show improvement only after the 2nd or 3rd treatment. Hypothetically, the bladder stretch helps relieve the IC symptoms by damaging the oversensitive nerve endings in the bladder lining.
Bladder wash (instillation)
It delivers medication to the bladder with a solution that is held in the bladder for a short period of time (from a few seconds to 15 minutes), then drained with a catheter.
There are many different drugs that may be used (taken by mouth or put right into the bladder). It should be noted, however, that antibiotics are ineffective.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
Mild electric pulses enter the body for minutes to hours. This is done 2 or more times a day. The pulses are sent through wires placed on the lower back. Or through special devices put into the vagina. For some people, TENS eases bladder pain and urinary frequency and urgency.
Sacral neuromodulation (delivered via the InterStim™ system)
It is a treatment option for bladder control. An implant electrically stimulate the sacral nerve which is thought to normalize neural communication between the bladder and brain. This treatment, however, may be effective in addressing the frequency associated with interstitial cystitis / painful bladder syndrome, but not the relief of pain.
Urinating at certain times and using relaxation methods and distractions to help keep to schedule. And trying, over time, to lengthen the time between the scheduled urinations.
It may be used in select cases, especially for treatment of associated pelvic floor muscle spasm.
Surgery (cystectomy) with urinary diversion (the last resort)
In severe cases, removal of the bladder, or part of the bladder, if other treatments do not work. A treatment of last resort.
When you have been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, you will first be offered the ways in which you can help yourself, like lifestyle changes.
Some doctors agree that she IC symptoms can be managed with:
Without any doubt, diet plays an important role in keeping IC /PBS under control. Certain products including, but not limited to, coffee, alcoholic beverages, citrus fruits, tomatoes, carbonated drinks, and spicy food have been associated with exacerbation of symptoms. A trial of elimination of such foods and beverages, especially acidic, may be worthwhile.
As nicotine irritates the bladder, smoking cessation can help to reduce the symptoms.
Exercise may help ease symptoms or make them stop for a while. It can also speed remission.
There is no proof that stress causes IC / PBS. But if a person has it, stress can make the symptoms worse.
Taking nutritional supplements
There are many supplements available – over-the-counter (OTC) or in health food stores, such as chondroitin sulfate and quercetin. They may help reverse the damage done to the urothelium, which normally acts as a barrier against insults to the urinary bladder.
*Based on various available sources and studies, our research and practical experience. Last modified on November 19, 2019.
Contrary to a popular belief and common medical practice, people with interstitial cystitis do benefit from specialty herbal dietary supplements.
With their help it is possible not only to bring the relief of pain, but also to heal the damaged, irritated and/or inflamed bladder wall by:
Compared to standard medical treatments, the natural, non-pharmacological approach to IC /PBS is clearly a superior option – much more effective, much safer and without side effects.
It is our working experience that interstitial cystitis can be successfully controlled and most importantly prevented with the help of some natural formulations.
Therefore, you or someone you know, or hold dear, who suffers from IC / PBS should give this approach serious consideration.
As far as our line of naturopathic dietary supplements is concerned, many women suffering from interstitial cystitis have gotten great results after using our Uribiotic Formula known to its ability not only to heal the bladder lining, but also the entire urinary tract.
This unique multi-herbal formula has been proven to be able to:
Also, depending on the severity of symptoms, other dietary supplements can be taken along with Uribiotic Formula:
I have been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis. And over the past two years, I have taken so many antibiotics* for that. On my last visit to my urologist, after having a cystoscopy, he recommended that I should try D-Mannose to help me get away from antibiotics. I was using it but still had a couple of full-blown UTIs.
After a huge amount of research to help my recurring UTIs, I came upon your webpage. Since then I have not looked back.
I showed these products to my Naturopath who is very interested as there is nothing close to that in Australia. With my great results, she is going to forward your webpage to her patients.
Well done and thank you for helping me to feel normal again. And if I can help others here with my testimony I will be more than happy to recommend your Uribiotic.
I will be very happy to order again as I am going to take these products as an ongoing prevention, not just to treat when I get a UTI, to continue good health.
Although there are many different drugs used medicinally, antibiotics are known to be ineffective IC.
I have had interstitial cystitis (IC) for eight years. A couple of months ago, I had a bladder infection and wanted to find a natural antibiotic for bladder infections.
After doing thorough research on natural antibiotics, I decided to try Uribiotic Formula. When I started I felt comfort within 24 hours.
After using Uribiotic for a month, knowing my symptoms were gone, I stopped taking it.
Within a couple of weeks, I again felt discomfort. I then realized that Uribiotic was helping my IC.
I am now taking it on a daily basis: two capsules (and good probiotics) in the morning and in the evening. This is helping my IC tremendously.
Thank you for a great product!
Seattle, Washington, USA
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis / painful bladder syndrome vary from person to person. And at different times you may have different symptoms. Sometimes, they go away by themselves – but may return unexpectedly.
At times, the symptoms may resemble those of a chronic urinary tract infection, but there is usually no infection in interstitial cystitis. However, when you do have IC / PBS, the symptoms may worsen if you get a UTI.
Think you might have an IC / PBS
and/or interested in getting a second opinion?
Please fill in the two-part questionnaire below, answering all questions thoughtfully and to the best of your knowledge. By doing so, you will be much better prepared for an eventual doctor’s appointment. It might also help your doctor determine if you need further testing or treatment, which is not always a routine practice.
As for the symptoms, they are sensations or perceptions of changes in health experienced by yourself or someone you know, or hold dear who too may be in need for help.
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