What is IC/BPS ?

This article briefly describes what Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome is all about.

Are you facing these problems:

  • Continuous pain in your lower abdomen (pelvic region)
  • Increased visits to the toilet to pass urine
  • Urgency to pass urine
  • Small volume of urine passed
  • Getting up at night multiple times to pass urine

Then you may be suffering from a condition called interstitial cystitis, also known as bladder pain syndrome.

Causes

The cause of interstitial cystitis is yet not clear. It probably results from injury to the bladder lining which causes irritants from the urine to enter into the bladder wall which causes pain and sends mixed signals to the brain to pass urine even when the bladder is not completely filled.

Incidence

Overall the incidence of interstitial cystitis is very low; however, women are slightly more prone for the condition. It affects 21 out of 100,000 women whereas 4 out 100,000 men are affected.

 Diagnosis

It is possible to diagnose interstitial cystitis once all other possible causes for the above symptoms have been excluded.

We generally do a

  • Routine Urine Examination and Culture to rule out urinary tract infection
  • Urine Cytology to look for any suspicious cells
  • Cystoscopy to look for any ulcer, or stone or any growth
  • Biopsy of any suspicious lesion to rule out cancer

Treatment

The treatment is mostly supportive.

  • It requires an understanding of the condition both by the patient as well as the family.
  • Certain lifestyle changes can help such as keeping a watchful eye for those substances in the diet that tend to aggravate the symptoms.
  • It is helpful to practice certain calming techniques such as deep breathing, meditation etc
  • Practice a little bladder control; voiding urine at timely intervals. Begin with half an hour interval gradually increasing to 1 hour and even longer
  • Pentosan polysulphate sodium, an oral medication, can be tried. It is believed to heal the bladder wall and relieve the irritation.
  • Certain medications are instilled in the bladder as dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO).

IC/BPS Flares

Interstitial Cystitis Bladder Pain Syndrome is a disease with waxing and waning course. People who are living with IC/BPS realize that there may be good and bad days when it comes to this disease. The exageration of symptoms of IC/BPS is often referred to as IC/BPS Flare and this includes increase in the existing symptoms.

The common predisposing factors leading to flares and prevention stratergies are as follows:

  • Diet: Certain foods and drugs can cause flare. The prevention strategy is to avoid such foods. More information about diet is available on our diet page.
  • Stress: Stress can aggravate symptoms and it is essential to incorporate stress management technique and learn them so that flares can be handled smoothly.  You can learn these techniques here.
  • Travel: Travelling on long routes can disturb bladder routine and flare up the symptoms. Choosing comfortable means of travel and taking frequent washroom trips can help to ease the trauma.
  • Exercise and Sex: Exercises of various forms can flare up the symptoms. Relaxation exercises, walks and yoga are usually well tolerated which many patients have difficulty with runing, lifting heavy weights and intercourse.
  • Hormonal Variations: Many patients may be affected by hormonal variations which flares up IC/BPS.  Management is best by increasing medications till the time the hormonal variations stabilize along with meditation.

Global Interstitial Cystitis Bladder Pain Syndrome Society. Division of Swati orphan disease foundation under Section 8 of Indian companies Act 2013