WHAT IS INTERSTITIAL CYSTITIS?Interstitial cystitis is a non-bacterial inflammatory condition, which affects the bladder. Common symptoms include urinary frequency (8x or more per day), urination at night, bladder pressure and pain (typically worsened by bladder filling and alleviated by bladder emptying), and pelvic pain. The pain of interstitial cystitis can range from mild burning or discomfort to severe and debilitating pain, which can radiate. Approximately 90% of cases of interstitial cystitis occur in women. Menstruation and sexual intercourse often aggravate symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Many women mistake the condition for a chronic urinary tract infection however upon testing, urinalysis reveals no infection.
Diagnosis of interstitial cystitis can be difficult. The patient must be experiencing symptoms for a minimum of six weeks and all other potential causes (such as a urinary tract infection) must be ruled out. Cystoscopy (visualization of the bladder) is often performed. Ulcerations and inflammation can be seen in the bladder in 10% of cases whereas 90% of cases show normal results. Tests are often performed not to diagnose the condition, but to rule out other causes.
There have been several causes proposed for interstitial cystitis, of which none have been proven. Some leading causes include the following:
- Bladder epithelial permeability: Abnormal permeability of the bladder allows components of urine to penetrate through the wall and irritate it. Increased permeability may be due to decreased levels of glycoproteins and glycosaminoglycans.
- Inflammation: Biopsies of interstitial cystitis bladders show mild to significant inflammation.
Why seek advice from a Naturopathic Doctor for interstitial cystitis:
- An ND may help rule out other potential causes of symptoms: infection, pelvic floor dysfunction, and endometriosis.
- All support will aim to break the cycle of dysfunction, inflammation, and pain that occurs in interstitial cystitis.
- Certain dietary changes may help to manage symptoms of interstitial cystitis. An ND may help you identify and eliminate foods that may be triggering symptoms.
- Acupuncture may help to reduce pain levels in certain patients.
- Botanicals and other supplements may be used to reduce inflammation in the bladder leading to a relief in symptoms.
- Support will be provided for associated conditions related to interstitial cystitis.