The Condition

If you experience symptoms that go beyond inconvenience and discomfort to outright pain, you may have a more serious condition – one that requires special attention.

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder syndrome that is usually characterized by excessive urinary urgency and frequency day and night, pressure above the pubic area, pelvic pain and pain during or after sexual intercourse. The most typical symptom of IC is pelvic pain. The course of this disease is usually marked by flare-ups and remissions. An estimated one million Americans are affected by symptoms of IC.

IC is an enigma because we really don’t know what causes it, nor do we currently have a cure. The most widely held theory at present is that clinical IC begins with the development of an injury to the bladder epithelium (lining). This injury may have occurred following a bladder infection, childbirth, pelvic surgery or a traumatic sexual assault. The variation seen in both the range of symptoms and patient responses to different therapies suggest that multiple factors are involved in this disease process.

Due to this uncertainty, IC is often either undiagnosed or improperly diagnosed. A patient often consults with multiple specialists before diagnosis of IC is made.

The diagnosis of IC is often one of exclusion – other conditions such as chronic bacterial infection, urethritis, vulvar vestibulitis, endometriosis and bacterial prostatitis must first be ruled out. There is not one single test that will positively diagnose IC. Presumptive diagnosis may be made based on a thorough patient history, pelvic exam, bladder diary or urodynamics. Confirmation diagnosis is based on cystoscopy examination with hydrodistension under anesthesia.

At the Hubbard Clinic, we will work to determine if IC is the cause of your symptoms, and begin an appropriate therapy strategy right away.

The Treatment

The goal of treatment for IC includes repairing epithelial dysfunction, reducing neurogenic inflammation and stabilizing mast cells. Given the possible multiple causes of IC, it is unusual for patients to respond to a single treatment.

It is crucial in the treatment of IC to establish a multimodal (more than one method) treatment strategy. Diet modification has proven quite effective. Multimodal drug therapy using antihistamines, antidepressants, urinary analgesics, Elmiron and/or intravesical agents are also extremely effective in the treatment of IC. Because each patient is unique and symptoms vary, each patient must receive an individualized treatment plan to get IC in remission.

If you are experiencing pelvic pain and/or frequent urination, please don’t delay in seeking treatment. It’s important to bring this serious condition under control.