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What Does Interstitial Cystitis Pain Feel Like & Does Drinking Water Help IC?

Interstitial cystitis is known as overactive bladder syndrome(1). IC causes frequent urination and urgency of urination symptoms. The cause of this condition is often not well-known(2). The common mode of treatment includes bladder pressure dilation, bladder training, and surgical intervention(3)

Drinking more than enough water helps in controlling interstitial cystitis pain by diluting the urine.(4)

Interstitial cystitis is a disease that causes non-specific chronic inflammation of the bladder and causes symptoms such as frequent urination, increased urgency for urination, and bladder pain.

What Does Interstitial Cystitis Pain Feel Like?

Although it is common in middle-aged women, interstitial cystitis can also be found in men and children. The cause is unknown, and dysfunction of the bladder mucosa and immunological mechanisms are assumed. Although the quality of life is greatly impaired due to the pain caused by frequent urination and bladder pain, there is no established treatment, and the current situation is that the treatment is symptomatic(1).

The cause of interstitial cystitis unknown, but dysfunction of the bladder mucosa, immunological abnormal reactions, toxic substances in the urine, and hypersensitivity to pain are assumed.(2)

Symptoms mainly include frequent urination, increased urination, residual urine, bladder discomfort, bladder pain, etc. Bladder discomfort and pain are caused by urine in the bladder, cold, and irritation. Indigestion and mental stress also make it worse. Although the bladder and urethra are the most common pain areas, they can also spread to the vagina, vulva, and lumbar region.(2)

Does Drinking Water Help Control Interstitial Cystitis Pain?

It is often found that simple remedies such as drinking more water can effectively control interstitial cystitis pain. Drinking more water may dilate your urine thus making it less concentrated and reduce IC related discomforts. Additional water is particularly helpful to control interstitial cystitis flare related to diet.

In general, bladder health is maintained when you bring enough water. This helps your bladder to work properly. When you drink less water your bladder gets accustomed to hold less amount of urine at a given point of time and may become more sensitive due to a higher concentration of substances present in the urine. This will further irritate the bladder making it vulnerable to interstitial cystitis syndrome.

It is advisable to take at least 1.5 to 2 L of water every day. However, many foods may contain enough water and you can count them as well in your daily fluid intake. Do not take a lot of water at the single go and rather take small amounts of water repeatedly throughout the day. Sometimes drinking water may aggravate your condition, but in the long run, it will be beneficial as the bladder will adapt to have more you win at a time. This will make the bladder less irritable and sensitive to urine and the chance of bacterial infection will also go down.(4)

Remedies For Interstitial Cystitis

It is speculated that interstitial cystitis is associated with allergies. Anti-allergic drugs may be effective. Injecting a local anesthetic or anticoagulant (a drug that makes it difficult for blood to clot) into the bladder may help.

Bladder training is an effective treatment for interstitial cystitis. It is easy to incorporate into everyday life because you can do it yourself without any tools.

When interstitial cystitis progresses considerably, almost no urine may be retained in the bladder. If you cannot collect urine in the bladder, the number of urinations will increase considerably and it will be a big obstacle to your daily life. It may be said that the bladder has almost no function under these conditions. For severe interstitial cystitis, your doctor may consider removing the bladder surgically (total cystectomy) or replacing the wall of the bladder with tissues from the intestine so that urine accumulates in the bladder. Both the surgical procedure has a considerable burden on the body, so they should be carefully examined and interstitial cystitis rarely requires surgery.(3)

Diagnosis Of Interstitial Cystitis

Although there are no internationally recognized diagnostic criteria, physicians commonly use the three criteria of symptoms, cystoscopy findings, and denial of other similar diseases as diagnostic criteria.


  1. Birder LA. Pathophysiology of interstitial cystitis. International Journal of Urology. 2019;26:12-15.
  2. Giusto LL, Zahner PM, Shoskes DA. An evaluation of the pharmacotherapy for interstitial cystitis. Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy. 2018;19(10):1097-1108.
  3. Garzon S, Laganà AS, Casarin J, et al. An update on treatment options for interstitial cystitis. Menopausal Review/Przeglad Menopauzalny. 2020;19(1).
  4. Hsieh C-H, Chang S-T, Hsieh C-J, et al. Treatment of interstitial cystitis with hydrodistention and bladder training. International Urogynecology Journal. 2008;19(10):1379-1384.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 16, 2020

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