Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a painful and relatively rare chronic condition which causes bladder pressure, bladder pain, and occasionally pelvic pain. It affects mostly women after the age of 40 and there is no known definitive cause or cure. Interstitial cystitis symptoms vary for each person. Call your doctor if anything feels different when you urinate.
The Link Between IC and UTIs
The medical community has not come to a consensus on any possible link between IC and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Although the two are often confused in diagnoses, many doctors believe they are unrelated conditions. However, there is a small but growing body of medical professionals who are seeing a link between a chronic low-grade UTI that lasts for years and the eventual development of IC. These doctors are insisting that preventing recurring UTIs is a key component of long-term bladder health.
So if you already have IC, don’t worry about an increased risk for UTIs. You may still get them, of course, but there is no evidence that interstitial cytosis is causing them. On the flip side of that equation, you do need to be more cautious. If you suffer from frequent, recurring urinary track infections, even low-grade ones, it’s time to nip those babies in the bud. Anything you can do to prevent a potential case of IC down the road is a good thing.
With or without IC, natural UTI prevention is an important part of your overall health and wellbeing. Practice the following healthy habits:
- Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, such as oranges, red peppers, and kiwifruit.
- Take probiotics.
- Drink unsweetened cranberry juice. Yes, it’s very sour, but the stuff with the sugar won’t do.
- Don’t hold your urine. Go to the bathroom when you feel the urge.
Of course, if you already have a full-blown UTI, call your doctor. A round of antibiotics may be in order. Then when you’ve recovered, try changing your lifestyle a little to prevent the next one.
Dealing With IC
Since there is no true cure for IC, living with this condition can be discouraging and debilitating. Don’t give up. There are steps you can take and things your doctor can do for you to improve your quality of life. There are some medications that have improved symptoms in 60 to 70 percent of patients. Ask your doctor for information about what is available.
Pain relievers are another part of your arsenal. The pain in IC is caused by the activation of pain nerve fibers, so the standard pain medications won’t work. Drugs that work for neuropathic pain, such as antihistamines or antidepressants, can alleviate some of the discomfort.
Of course, diet and physical therapy play a part, too. Avoid spicy and acidic foods, caffeine and alcohol. Potassium irritates the bladder lining, so bananas are off the table. Physical therapy to strengthen pelvic floor muscles helps as well.
If you are struggling with IC or UTIs, get the help you need today. You are not alone in this fight.