Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a medical condition involving inflammation and erosion of bladder. Some patients do not show symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis
Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis
Controlling Cystitis with Diet
What Causes Gross Hematuria?
The Bladder Infection and Its Burning Pain
What Causes Microscopic Hematuria?
The Link between Food and Interstitial Cystitis
Overview of Dysuria
Food Acids and Bases in Connection with Interstitial Cystitis

Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a medical condition involving inflammation and erosion of bladder. Some patients do not show symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

Pressure and Pain
Pain in the pelvis may be experienced by sufferers of interstitial cystitis. Pain can also occur at the perineal part, as well as in the scrotum. Added pressure on these areas may also be felt.

Frequent Urge to Urinate
People who have interstitial cystitis often feel the need to urinate, even after urinating just minutes before. A normal person can urinate eight times a day. A frequency of more than eight times, sometimes up to a maximum of 60 times, is a symptom of interstitial cystitis.

Nocturia is a term to describe being awakened at night just to urinate frequently. Especially if this is not a normal occurrence for the patient, it might be a sign that interstitial cystitis is already present.

Dyspareunia is a medical term used to describe the painful feeling during sexual intercourse. This symptom can either be caused by psychological or medical conditions, or even both.

Hematuria is a term used to describe the presence of blood in urine. Hematuria can either be gross (a lot of blood can be seen in the urine) or microscope (blood in urine is not seen by the naked eye). Interstitial cystitis can cause either gross or microscopic hematuria.

Decreased Bladder Capacity
A decrease in the bladder’s capacity can be determined when the urine passed is significantly less than what is normally passed. This is also associated with urinating frequently.

Dysuria is a medical term used to describe the pain felt while urinating. The burning sensation while urinating can also be termed as dysuria.

Urinary Infection
Infections in the urinary tract are also a common symptom for interstitial cystitis. Especially if the infection is not treated and does not go away even after a treatment of antibiotics, interstitial cystitis may probably be the cause.

Monthly Worsening of Flares
A flare is a term used to describe the aggravation of the symptoms of an illness, such as interstitial cystitis. If flares worsen during menstrual periods, it is most probably caused by interstitial cystitis.

Prolonged Duration of the Symptoms
If the above-mentioned symptoms have been recurring for more than nine months, the most probable cause would be interstitial cystitis. However, it is always a wise decision to consult with a doctor specializing in the urinary tract in order to be given advice as to how to deal with the condition.

Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis

woman with Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a health condition where the bladder hardens and the lining of its wall erodes. Irritation, as well as inflammation of the bladder will occur, which ultimately leads to scarring and stiffness of the urinary tract and bladder. Interstitial cystitis, which is commonly known as IC, affects millions of people around the world. In order to determine if a health condition is indeed interstitial cystitis, the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has created a general guideline which has been standardized and used for the purpose of diagnosing interstitial cystitis.

Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis
When diagnosing interstitial cystitis, the patient typically has to undergo a number of tests, as well as a cytoscopy (a tiny camera is inserted into the body to see images of the ureter and the bladder, as well as the linings of the walls). Symptoms such as pain in the bladder or the frequent tendency to urinate are considered symptoms of this condition and are usually taken into account when diagnosing IC.

Inclusion Criteria for Interstitial Cystitis
Currently, the guidelines for diagnosing interstitial cystitis include two inclusion criteria. One criterion is the presence of glomerulation (small bleeding spots), which is also known as Hunner’s ulcer. Glomerulation or Hunner’s ulcer can be seen upon performing a cytoscopy on the patient. Another criterion is the presence of pain in the bladder and the frequent need to urinate.

Exclusion Criteria for Interstitial Cystitis
Among the exclusion criteria for diagnosing interstitial cystitis include:

– a bladder capacity that is greater than 350 cc upon performance of awake cystometry (the person is not sedated while the bladder is filled with water in order to determine its capacity)

– the absence of the need to urinate even when the bladder has been filled to 100 cc during a cystometry (rate of filling of liquid 30-100 cc/minute)

– Symptoms not lasting up to 9 months which are alleviated by urinary antibacterial drugs, antispasmodics and anticholinergics, as well as the nonexistence of nocturia (frequent awakening just to urinate, usually happens at night) are also considered as exclusion criteria.

a woman doctor and two nurses around a patient

– Still other exclusion criteria are frequent urination of less than eight times a day, a diagnosis of prostates or bacterial cystitis (in a period of 3 months), ureteral or bladder calculi (small stones), genital herpes (active), cervical/uterine/urethral cancer, urethral diverticulum, chemical cystitis such as cyclophosphamide, tuberculous cystitis, benign or even malignant tumors in the bladder, radiation cystitis and vaginitis.

– Patients who are under 18 years old also have less risk of having interstitial cystitis.

Controlling Cystitis with Diet

cranberries and a cup of cranberry juice

Cystitis is a medical term which refers to the inflammation or swelling of the urinary bladder. Inflammation of the bladder could be due to bacterial infections usually caused by the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This medical condition causes discomfort which can even lead to extreme pain. Cystitis can be acute or chronic. For chronic conditions, longer periods of treatment or stronger doses of antibiotic medication may be needed.

How Diet Affects Cystitis
The kind of food a person suffering from cystitis eats can significantly worsen or alleviate the symptoms of the condition. Acidic types of food increase the acidity level of urine and can worsen the symptoms of cystitis. The color of urine is considered to be a parameter in determining whether a person has too much acid in the diet. Highly yellow urine is considered a sign of too much acid. For the best relief from symptoms, the urine should be as alkaline or neutral as possible and this can be achieved by either taking in alkaline foods or drinking lots of water.

Foods and Beverages to Stay Away From
Aside from bacterial contamination, acidic foods can cause the bladder to be irritated. Some examples of foods that are acidic include:

– tomato products and raw tomatoes
– chocolate and chocolate products
– spicy foods
– carbonated drinks
– beverages that contain lemons and other citrus fruits
– vinaigrette dressings and all other foods that have vinegar
– alcoholic beverages and artificial sweeteners

These types of food are better avoided for a person suffering from cystitis.

Types of Food that Can Help Alleviate the Symptoms of Cystitis
Avoiding acids in the diet can help significantly in preventing the pain of cystitis. There are also foods and beverages that help ease the pain. Water is the most basic beverage and the least expensive of them all. Frequently drinking water neutralizes the acids that have accumulated inside the body and in the urinary system. It also helps clean the bladder by flushing out bacteria that have grown in it.

Cranberries, as well as cranberry juice is said to be helpful in easing pain, as well. Although no studies have been done to prove the theory, small evidence has been observed by many which attest to the effectiveness of cranberries to ease the pain of cystitis. Like any other type of food, cranberries should also not be taken in excess as it can also cause the body possible harm. For instance, too much cranberry juice can cause gastrointestinal irritation which can lead to diarrhea.

What Causes Gross Hematuria?

gross hematuria

Hematuria is defined as the presence of evident blood in the urine. When termed as Gross Hematuria, it means that blood can be seen in a person’s urine. Gross Hematuria is a symptom and not a disease. It is an indication that something is wrong in the urinary tract and the person needs to be examined by a doctor. It is important to determine the cause of gross hematuria because it can stop a potentially serious medical condition from becoming even worse. There are a variety of causes and several are outlined below.

In some cases, certain medications can cause gross hematuria. Warfarin, penicillin, cyclophosphamide, heparin and aspirin are some examples. These drugs can also cause fatigue, nausea and the loss of appetite.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
One of the common causes of gross hematuria is a urinary tract infection. The infection occurs when bacteria enter the bladder through the ureter and multiply inside it. This causes inflammation and may cause bleeding.

Kidney Infections
More serious than a urinary tract infection, a kidney infection can also cause gross hematuria. The infection happens when bacteria infiltrates kidneys through the bloodstream or the ureter. Other symptoms of a kidney infection include fever, flank pain and strong-smelling urine.

Injuries to the Kidneys
Sports injuries or accidents with blows to the kidneys can be a cause for the presence of a lot of blood in the urine. If left unattended, these injuries can cause serious pain, and possibly a shattered kidney.

Stone in the Kidney or Bladder
Another possible cause for gross hematuria is the presence of kidney or bladder stones. These stones are formed due of the accumulation of mineral crystals present in concentrated urine. Aside from blood in the urine, severe pain is common for people who have either bladder or kidney stones.

An Enlarged Prostate
An enlarged prostate is also one of the possible causes for gross hematuria. The prostate expands when men matures in age. As the prostate enlarges, it compresses the urethra and partially blocks urine. The blockage of urine then can lead to bladder or kidney stones.

Certain Types of Cancer
There are types of cancers that cause gross hematuria. Among these include kidney cancer and prostate cancer. Usually, gross hematuria occurs in the advanced stages of the cancer, accompanied by extreme fatigue and weight loss. Once it has reached the advanced stages, these cancers will be a lot more difficult to treat.

Genetic Disorders
Sickle Cell Anemia, which is an inherited disorder, can also cause gross hematuria. Another genetic disorder that can produce this symptom is the Alport Syndrome in which tiny blood vessels in the kidney are damaged. This genetic disorder can also include symptoms such as fatigue and pain.

The Bladder Infection and Its Burning Pain

a woman with bladder infection bending forward and her hands on her bladder

Cystitis is a term used to name an infection in the bladder. This infection is caused by an abundance of bacterial growth in the bladder, eventually causing it to become inflamed. Typically in a bladder infection, a burning pain is experienced by the sufferer.

How Does a Bladder Infection Occur?
A bladder infection occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract and travels toward the bladder. An example of a situation where bacteria can infiltrate the urinary tract is when a woman wipes from back to front after urinating. In males, bacteria can enter the urinary tract through sexual intercourse. As it is the last destination of the bacteria in the urinary tract, the bladder is usually where bacterial growth commonly occurs, thus resulting in bladder infection.

What Causes the Burning Pain in a Bladder Infection?
When bacteria enter the urinary tract and begin rapid growth, white blood cells are created by the body to fight it. When urinating, the white blood cells act to push bacteria out, which causes the burning sensation. Thus, the body’s action to rid itself of bacteria creates the burning pain when urinating.

Complicated Bladder Infections
Complicated urinary infections involve those that have abnormalities in the urinary tract. These infections are also harder to treat than the common bladder infection. Although women get bladder infections more often, men get the uncommon yet complicated ones.

Men have less chances of getting bladder infections because the length of the urethra helps keep bacteria from getting to the bladder. Some of the most common reasons why men get urinary tract infections include medical conditions like diabetes and nerve damage due to injuries. A blockage in urine flow can also cause bladder infections in men. An example of this blockage is an expanded or enlarged prostrate, which is common in men 50 years old and above.

Other Symptoms of a Bladder Infection
Aside from the burning sensation when urinating, other common symptoms include frequent urination, and urinating in small amounts is frequently the first indication of an infection in the bladder. If urinating frequently at night is not a normal occurrence for you, then it is possible that a bladder infection may be present. Hematuria, or blood in the urine, as well as pain in the lower abdomen are also symptoms of a bladder infection. Complicated infections in the bladder can exhibit symptoms like fever with chills, back pain, vomiting, nausea and confusion.

What Causes Microscopic Hematuria?

microscopic view of hematuria in blood

Hematuria is a medical term for describing the presence of blood in urine. It should not be mistaken as an illness as it is not. Rather, hematuria is a symptom for a possible medical condition.

It can be classified as gross or microscopic. If blood in plentiful amounts is present in urine, then it is termed as gross hematuria. If laboratory results show the presence of blood in urine, however it is not visible to the naked eye, then it is termed as microscopic hematuria. Usually, what causes gross hematuria can also be a possible cause of microscopic hematuria. Below are the most common causes for this symptom.

Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection can cause microscopic hematuria. The most common urinary tract infection is the bladder infection, where a bacterium that has infiltrated multiplies inside it. The hematuria should be gone once the urinary tract infection is treated with antibiotics.

Glomerulonephritis occurs when the tiny blood vessels inside the kidneys (glomeruli) become inflamed. This condition is also referred to as glomeruli nephritis and is also one cause of microscopic hematuria. Sometimes the condition requires treatment and sometimes it goes away on its own. Either way, once the glomerulonephritis has been treated, the hematuria also stops.

Certain Medications
In some instances, certain types of medicines can cause microscopic hematuria. Among those drugs that can be a cause of blood to be present in the urine are Coumadin, pills for birth control, diuretics, some anti-depressants, penicillin and aspirin.

Kidney Stones or Bladder Stones
The formation of stones either in the kidneys or in the bladder can also cause microscopic hematuria. Once these stones are removed however, the hematuria should also be treated.

Inherited Diseases
Inherited diseases, which are more commonly known as diseases of the blood, can also cause microscopic hematuria. An example is sickle cell anemia, which almost always causes this symptom.

Tumors in the Urinary Tract
The growth of tumors in the urinary tract can also cause microscopic hematuria. Benign or malignant tumors can both cause this symptom. However, hematuria will also be resolved once the tumor has been removed or has dissolved through medication.

As uncommon as it may seem, in some instances, exercise can also cause the presence of blood in urine. Microscopic hematuria that is caused by exercise will typically go away within twenty-four hours and is not considered to be serious. However, if blood is constantly seen in the urine, then a doctor should be consulted to evaluate other possible causes for it.

The Link between Food and Interstitial Cystitis

mild, moderate and severe cases of interstitial cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is the coagulation and erosion of the wall linings of the bladder. Currently, there is no known cure for this health condition. Studies have shown that certain types of food can trigger IC flares (sudden, random attacks of pain).

The Link between Interstitial Cystitis Flares and Food
Medical researchers and practitioners have reported that acidic types of food can trigger IC flares. They have considered interstitial cystitis to be a form of allergy which is triggered or worsened by the consumption of food that has a high acid content. Common types of food that can worsen pain from interstitial cystitis include grain products, carbonated beverages, nuts and fatty foods, soups that are mostly processed and packed, and caffeinated products, as well as tomatoes and asparagus. These foods typically have a high amount of acid in them.

Food that are Safe to Eat with Interstitial Cystitis
Although a number of foods can trigger IC flares, there are also those that are safer to eat with the condition.

Almost all meat products, as long as it is fresh and has no added preservatives, is safe to eat. When eating steak, avoid using ketchup or strong spices. Instead, try to pair your steak with sautéed mushrooms. Also be careful of BBQ sauces, as well as steak sauces, as most contain tomatoes in some form.

Vegetables are safe to eat as long as they are not paired with spicy or acidic sauces. For dairy products, eggs and milk are generally okay to eat, but be cautious with cheeses. You can try fresh mozzarella, farmers’ cheese, string cheese and cottage cheese.

As for breads, those that are recommended are those that have no preservatives and are the freshest possible. Simple breads like wheat, rice and oat are safe to eat, as well. A particular brand of breads, Ezekiel, is very popular among people who have interstitial cystitis.

Since most fruits contain a high amount of acid, there are only a few safe choices to choose from. Among these safe fruits are blueberries and pears. Certain types of apples (Fuji apple, gala apple) can also be safe to eat.

Hot drinks such as coffee and caffeinated tea are definitely not included on the safe list. However, you can try herbal teas like chamomile or peppermint and decaffeinated beverages. Vanilla milk is also okay to drink.

What to do to Prevent Worsening of Interstitial Cystitis
As people suffering from IC have a higher risk for dehydration, taking in a lot of water can help prevent dehydration. Although taking in a lot of water leads to frequent urination, it also decreases the chance of acid build up in the bladder. The resulting urine has a pale yellow color which is best for aiding in preventing flare-ups.

Overview of Dysuria

crossed legs of a guy in pain with dysuria

Dysuria is a medical term used to describe painful urination. Although it is generally harmless, it can definitely be a source of discomfort for the person suffering it. Dysuria is most commonly experienced by women, although it can also occur in men. The symptoms can be caused by a number of medical conditions, which include infections in the urinary tract.

What Causes Painful Urination?
Painful urination, or dysuria, is most commonly caused by urinary tract infections. Kidney problems such as infections may be a cause for dysuria. In men, enlarged prostate glands or inflamed urethra can be cause for painful urination. The formation of stones, either bladder stones or kidney stones, can also cause dysuria. Other possible medical conditions where dysuria is a symptom are sexually transmitted diseases (genital herpes or Chlamydia), yeast infections (vaginitis) and cancer. Sometimes using personal care products can cause dehydration and create painful urination.

Dysuria – How Is It Diagnosed?
In order to correctly conclude whether one is currently experiencing dysuria, some factors need to be considered. The primary basis for diagnosing it is the pain or burning sensation that is felt when urinating. Sometimes it is accompanied by an increase in the frequency of urinating. Being unable to control the bladder, or incontinence, is also another possible sign of dysuria. In women, during sexual intercourse, the presence of discharge that is foul smelling can be a sign.

Other signs that may point to the disorder include chills and irritation in the area close to the urethra’s opening. Aside from evaluating the physical symptoms, a few tests will be done to correctly diagnose dysuria. The tests include urinalysis (urine test) and tests for STDs. A blood test may also be done in order to check for bacterial infections. The doctor will also ask about diet, sexual activities, history and the symptoms that are being experienced. These questions will aid the doctor in finding out the underlying cause of pain when urinating.

What is the Treatment for Painful Urination?
Since dysuria is usually a symptom for an underlying medical condition, treating the cause will also treat the pain during urination. The most common treatment given is antibiotics. For yeast infections, anti-fungal medications are given. Dysuria in itself has very minimal complications. What may cause serious complications however, is the underlying condition which is causing the painful urination. To prevent the symptom from becoming worse, it is better to consult a doctor about it.

Food Acids and Bases in Connection with Interstitial Cystitis

acid-alkaline food chart
Interstitial Cystitis (commonly called IC) is a medical condition wherein the lining of the bladder erodes and the bladder itself hardens. In this medical condition, diet can significantly contribute to the frequency of IC flares. A flare is a term used to describe the manifestations of the symptoms of a medical condition, the most common of which is pain. Thus, it is important to take note about what kinds of food an IC sufferer can eat without triggering the occurrence of a flare.

Foods High in Acid Content
Studies have shown that an increase in the acidity level of urine is directly related to the frequency of flares. The more acidic the food intake, the more acidic urine becomes and the higher is the incidence of interstitial cystitis flares. Some common foods that have a high acid content include carbonated beverages like cola, caffeinated beverages like coffee, sweeteners, soy sauce, rice, popcorn, grain products (bread, pastries and crackers), cheese, nuts (walnuts, cashews, filberts, macadamia), peanuts, dried coconut, nutmeg, alcoholic drinks, sweetened yoghurt, table salt, fish and meat, oats, wheat, bran, rye, wheat germ, pasta, beans (red, garbanzo, black and white), seeds (sunflower and pumpkin), mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup and vinegar. For a person with interstitial cystitis, these foods should be avoided as much as possible.

Foods that are Considered Alkaline
To neutralize excess acid in urine, a person with interstitial cystitis can start a diet with foods that have high alkalinity. Some common alkaline foods include pignoli, chestnuts, sprouts (alfalfa, radish and chia), unsalted butter, eggs, fruits (except plums, cranberries, prunes and blueberries), peas, arrowroot flour, herbal teas, miso, brewer’s yeast, whey, unpasteurized honey, syrup made of brown rice, almonds, fresh coconuts, unsprouted sesame, milk, cream, vegetables (except beets and peppers), beans (string, lima, snap and soy), potatoes, garlic, cayenne, most herbs, gelatine, vanilla extract, unprocessed salt, cold-pressed oils (unprocessed), plain yoghurt, fruits and vegetable juices.

Consistent Hydration as a Method of Flare Prevention
Avoiding the occurrence of a flare means keeping the acid level in urine at low to normal levels. While neutralizing excess acid can mean taking in foods that are non-acidic or those that have high alkalinity, another way to prevent the buildup of acid is to effectively hydrate the body. Taking in plenty of water and ensuring that urine is as clear and colorless as possible is one way to prevent the occurrence of flares. It will also help prevent the worsening of interstitial cystitis.

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