Interstitial cystitis also known as Hunner’s Ulcer or Elusive ulcer is a chronic inflammatory condition of urinary bladder. In United States at least 3 to 4 million females and more than 1 million men are suffering from this disease. So primarily it can be said to be a condition peculiar to women.
In interstitial cystitis, the inner wall of urinary bladder becomes red and sore. Further the bladder becomes stiff and loses its contractility and becomes stiff due to inflammation. Due to stiffness, the bladder is unable to expand as it should be when the urine fills up.
Usually the symptoms commence in the early forties. Interstitial cystitis is known to cause more pain, mental anguish and dilemma than carcinoma of bladder. The incessant painful urination may be so troublesome that sometimes it may lead to drug addiction and suicidal tendencies.
Symptoms Of Interstitial Cystitis
Patient suffering from interstitial cystitis may have frequent urge to pass urine. Eventually every hour day and night the patient has to visit the washroom. However, the patient may pass small quantity of urine.
The second most characteristic symptom is pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen and the area between the vagina and anus, called perineum. In male it is the area between scrotum and anus. Pain increases as the bladder becomes full. Pain is relieved after voiding urine. Many patients experience pain while performing sexual act. There may be discomfort and pain in the penis and scrotum. In women the symptoms aggravate during onset of menses.
During the initial stage the urine is crystal clear and sterile (meaning there is no pus or bacteria). Later on almost fifty percent of patient’s urine becomes turbid due to presence of pus cells. Red colored urine due to blood in urine is also a common symptom.
What Causes Interstitial Cystitis?
The cause of interstitial cystitis is still as obscure as it was when Guy Hunner first time described the disease in 1914. Certainly the inflammation in the bladder wall does not commence as a result of ordinary infection. Experts are of the opinion that the defect lies in the lining of bladder wall.
Normally the lining protects the bladder wall from toxic contents present in urine. But due to unknown factors, the protective lining becomes leaky and allows urine to infiltrate and irritate the bladder wall. This leads to inflammation of the bladder wall.
Few experts suggest that histamine response in the bladder wall is the culprit, it is an autoimmune response. Some believe the condition is due to weak strain of tuberculosis bacteria which has so far defied isolation. In many cases the symptoms of interstitial cystitis have occurred few months after a pelvic operation.
Interstitial Cystitis Diet And Foods To Avoid
Some patients suffering from interstitial cystitis have found relief after avoiding foods that have probably aggravated their symptoms. Dietary modifications may therefore play an important role in treatment protocol, even though there is no scientific evidence linking diet to this disease.
Following foods should be avoided: alcohol, spices, carbonated beverages, tomatoes, citric acid containing fruits, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine containing products, acidic foods, and chocolate. Apart from this, if patients feel certain foods aggravating the condition they should stop eating for few weeks and reintroduce single at a time to make sure if they are aggravating it.
It is always advisable to eat organically grown food. They are less contaminated with pesticide and chemicals. Foods that can be eaten with IC are fresh meat but do not consume preserved meat particularly salami, pepperoni etc. All vegetables except tomatoes and sauces are good.
Milk and eggs can be consumed but avoid cheese. Wheat bread, rice bread or oat bread are preferable. Most fruits are acidic try in the beginning pears and blueberries, if they suit well then try papaya and mangoes.
Natural Remedies For Interstitial Cystitis
Besides dietary modifications certain natural ways also help in reducing IC symptoms.
- Quit smoking as it is known to aggravate the condition.
- Do pelvic floor exercise. This may reduce the spasms of muscles in the pelvis and help in training the bladder. A physiotherapist may help to teach the exercises.
- Acupuncture and acupressure are other alternative therapies that can be effective in some cases.
- Consuming flax seeds may help in relieving the inflammation. Flax seeds are rich in essential fatty acids. Research has suggested inflammatory changes have been observed when there is deficiency of essential fatty acids.
- Quercetin is a bioflavanoid derived from plants. It has been found quercetin helps to restrict the release of histamine. Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapple. Combined use of both effectively ensures relief in pain and inflammation of interstitial cystitis.