Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic condition that causes discomfort or pain in the bladder and pelvic region. It can also cause frequent urination and urinary urgency. Here are some strategies for managing the symptoms of interstitial cystitis:
- Dietary changes: Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and worsen IC symptoms. Women with IC should avoid or limit consumption of foods such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, acidic foods (such as citrus fruits and tomatoes), artificial sweeteners, and carbonated beverages. A registered dietitian can provide guidance on dietary changes to manage IC symptoms.
- Bladder training: Bladder training involves gradually increasing the time between urination to reduce the frequency of urination. This can help relieve urinary urgency and improve bladder control.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises: Pelvic floor muscle exercises, also known as Kegels, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve bladder control. A physical therapist can provide guidance on how to perform these exercises correctly.
- Medications: Some medications may help manage IC symptoms, including oral medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and antispasmodics. In some cases, bladder instillations (medications delivered directly into the bladder) may be recommended.
- Stress management: Stress can worsen IC symptoms, so it is important to practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
- Bladder distension: Bladder distension involves filling the bladder with fluid to stretch the bladder wall. This can help reduce inflammation and improve bladder capacity, which may relieve IC symptoms.
- Interstitial cystitis support groups: Joining an IC support group can provide emotional support and helpful information about managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
In summary, interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that can be managed with a combination of dietary changes, bladder training, pelvic floor muscle exercises, medications, stress management techniques, bladder distension, and support groups. Women with IC should work with their healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan.