Our Houston area urologists treat a variety of conditions and illnesses

Interstitial Cystitis

Get Relief for Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis, or IC, is a chronic condition that’s also known as painful bladder syndrome. The bladder walls become inflamed and irritated, causing bladder pain and pressure, the frequent urge to urinate small amounts of urine, and sometimes pelvic pain. The symptoms can seriously affect quality of life, but there is hope. Our Houston urologists provide a variety of treatments to help manage IC.

Causes and risk factors for IC

Physicians and researchers aren’t sure what causes interstitial cystitis, but they know that certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing the condition.

  • Gender — More women than men develop the condition.
  • Age — Most people get IC in their 30s or later.
  • Existing chronic pain disorder — IC seems to be associated with other pain disorders, such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IC can lead to certain complications, such as stiffening of the bladder walls, which can limit the amount of urine the bladder can hold. Social implications range from people limiting their social and work activities to limiting relationships and sexual intimacy. Chronic pain and frequent urination can also lead to sleep issues, stress, anxiety and depression.

Interstitial cystitis symptoms

IC is often called painful bladder syndrome because chronic pain is one of the primary symptoms. The pain ranges from mild to severe, and it may come and go or be constant. It depends on the individual. Here are the symptoms people experience.

  • Pain in the bladder region
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Feeling the urgent need to urinate
  • Needing to urinate frequently night and day, up to 60 times per day, often passing only small amounts of urine
  • Pain when the bladder is filling that urination relieves
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Women may experience more pain when they menstruate.

Our Houston urologists diagnose and treat painful bladder syndrome

There isn’t a specific test for interstitial cystitis, but our urologists have many diagnostic tools they can use to make a diagnosis. After a physical exam, our physicians may order urinalysis, a biopsy, or a cystoscopy procedure to examine the urethra and the bladder.

Lifestyle modifications help manage the condition. Our urologists recommend that patients exercise, find ways to reduce stress, and stop smoking. It’s also helpful to limit or eliminate food and drinks that can inflame the bladder, including chocolate, caffeinated drinks, acidic foods and citrus drinks, alcohol and spices.

Treatments help ease pain and other symptoms.

  • Oral medications or medications placed directly into the bladder
  • Bladder training to help lengthen the time between bathroom visits
  • Bladder procedures, such as enlarging the bladder to increase the bladder’s capacity or a bladder wash
  • TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which uses electrical pulses to help ease symptoms, such as the frequent need to urinate and bladder pain

In severe cases, our surgeons may have to remove part or all of the bladder.

Our Houston urologists have the expertise and training to help patients who have interstitial cystitis manage their symptoms and improve their lives. Contact us for an appointment to get help for painful bladder syndrome.