What is Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis?

Bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis is also known as PBS (painful bladder syndrome) is the condition wherein the person suffers bladder pressure and pain that results in pelvic pain as well. One might experience mild to severe discomfort and pain thus worsening the situation of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. The human bladder is hollow from inside and is there to store your urine. The bladder stores urine and when it reaches the maximum level, it sends signals to your brain and the pelvic nerves assist in this task. Soon you go to urinate and this is how everything works. But when you are suffering from bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis, the frequency of urination increases and the volume goes down.

This problem of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis is quite common in women and affects your life to a large extent. The worst part is that there is no effective treatment which can eliminate the problem of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis but still medications can be taken that are result oriented.

What is Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis?

Causes of Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis

There is no single cause of the bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis but there are several factors which are responsible for this problem. For example defect in the epithelium (which is a protective lining) is one of the causes of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. Sometimes the toxic elements enter your bladder and cause irritation to the wall of the bladder.

Other causes of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis include allergies, hereditary problem, autoimmune reaction and infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis

The signs and symptoms of the bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis are different for every person. If you are facing bladder pain and infection, there are chances that your menstruation will be improper and you will experience a lot of stress and problem in sexual activities. Some of the common signs and symptoms that you will come across are:

  • In case of men, they will experience pain between anus and scrotum while in case of women; they will feel pain in the pelvic region and between the anus and vagina.
  • When the bladder gets filled, you feel irritated and comfortable once urine passes and this is a major symptom of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis.
  • Problem in having sexual intercourse.
  • Pain in the pelvic area.
  • Urination becomes frequent and the number can go up to sixty times in a single day. This is quite a common problem with people having bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis.
  • Need to urinate frequently is a possible sign of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis.

The symptoms vary from person to person and even disappear when your periods come.

Most of the people feel that urinary tract infection and bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis are same but the later does not have any kind of bacteria’s that lead to the problem. But your condition can become worse if you suffer from both the problems at the same time.

When to go to a Physician for Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis?

If you come across any of the above factors for a long time, it is time to visit the doctor and consult them for the diagnosis of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. Your doctor may ask you to note the number of times you urinate and the type of food you need on the different days. This information may help them in a better way.

In other cases you may be asked to refer the urologist for men or urogynecologist for women so that they can do the needful.

In order to get the best treatment for bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis, it is necessary to provide complete information to your doctor. So prepare yourself well.

  • Jot down all the symptoms that you have been experiencing whether related or not.
  • In case you have taken any medications currently, write about that or the supplements if any. Do mention the dose of the medicine for better understanding.
  • Ask someone to accompany you so that the doctor can talk to them and understand what has to be done next.
  • Carry a diary or something to write all the important guidelines that are provided by the doctor.
  • If you have any questions related to the problem, you can write them as well and ask when you visit the doctor.

Though there are lot of questions that you might want to ask but the common ones include.

  • Do I need surgery for bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis?
  • Which tests need to be performed in my case?
  • Are medications enough to treat the bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis?
  • Do I have to change my diet for better results?
  • Does the bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis get cured on its own?
  • Are medications effective in my condition?

Talk to the doctor openly and understand everything. If you have any queries in your mind, you can ask the same freely or put your questions before them.

Risk Factors for Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis

Some of the risk factors that are connected with the interstitial cystitis are:

  • The gender of the person can be a risk factor for bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. Women are found more prone to this problem as compared to the men. The symptoms are almost the same with a difference that in case of men it is the prostate gland that causes the interstitial cystitis.
  • Chronic ailments can be a risk factor. People suffering from bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis may have prior disorders like fibromyalgia or it could be IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
  • The age of the person is a risk factor. This is yet another factor because bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis is said to affect the person when they their 30’s or are above that.

Complications in Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis

You might suffer from a number of complications in case of the bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis:

Emotional issues can be a complication in bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis as it results in improper sleep and pain that causes a lot of stress which further can result into depression.

  • Deterioration of quality of life is a complication in bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. You are unable to focus on your work and even find problems in performing the social activities thus affecting the quality of your life.
  • The patients’ bladder capacity reduces and is a complication in bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. Urinating several times can make your bladder stiff and with time its capacity gets reduced. This means that now your bladder will not hold much urine.
  • Sexual intimacy issues can be a complication. Patients might face problem in your sexual life as well because you tend to urinate frequently and also suffer from pain in the vagina.

Tests to Diagnose Bladder Pain Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis

These are the tests that will help you to diagnose the interstitial cystitis.

  • Urine test is conducted for diagnosing bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. Your urine sample will be taken to see the evidences of the UTI and bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis.
  • Medical history is checked to diagnose bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. You will be asked about your symptoms and other information that you have noted in your diary. Make sure you provide all the details asked in order to complete the examination properly.
  • Pelvic examination is done for bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. In this case the doctor will examine your vagina, genitals, cervix, and internal pelvic organs through the abdomen. If required they may also check the rectum as well as anus.
  • Potassium sensitivity test might be used to diagnose bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. This is the test wherein your doctor will put two different solutions of water and potassium chloride in the bladder using a certain procedure. You will then be asked to rate how much pain you suffer from both of them and the urgency to pass the urine. If the rating is high for potassium chloride, this means that you are suffering from bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. In case your bladder is normal, you will not feel any difference.
  • Biopsy is another test done to diagnose bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. In this case your sample of tissue is taken from the bladder and diagnosed for the bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis. Doctors check for bladder cancer and pain using this test.
  • Cystoscopy is the process wherein a very thin tube is passed into the bladder through the urethra using the cystoscope. Along with the tube, a liquid is also passed to check the bladder capacity. This process is also called as hydrodistention and is performed only when anesthesia is given to you. Thus you feel comfortable and no pain is the entire procedure.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 11, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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