Interstitial cystitis

 

Can you explain what is meant by cystitis?

Cystitis is the term used for inflammation of the bladder. In most cases, inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection. Cystitis can cause pain and frequent urination, or more serious problems if the infection travels to the kidneys.

Pain is usually felt above the pubic bone and often in the lower back as well. Frequent urination during the night may also occur. The urine may look cloudy and contain visible blood.

In older people, cystitis may cause no symptoms and only be discovered when urine tests are performed for other reasons.

Cystitis may occur as a reaction to certain drugs, radiation therapy or irritants, such as hygiene products, spermicidal jellies or long-term use of a catheter.

Antibiotics are used in the treatment of bacterial cystitis. Treatment for non-bacterial cystitis will depend on the underlying cause.

What is the difference between this and interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is painful inflammation of the bladder without evidence of infection. It is usually chronic and the cause is unknown. It typically develops in middle-aged women. Symptoms include an urgent need to pass urine, both during the day and at night. Usually only very small amounts of urine are passed each time.

Pressure, pain and tenderness may be felt around the bladder, pelvis and perineum. There may be pain during sexual intercourse and for women symptoms may get worse before their menstrual period. Stress may also make the symptoms worse. Over time, the inflammation may cause the bladder to shrink.

While the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis may resemble those of a chronic urinary tract infection, urine cultures are usually free of bacteria.

Can interstitial cystitis be treated?

As no one treatment works for everyone, various treatments or combinations of treatments may have to be tried before symptoms are relieved.

Painkillers, tricyclic anti-depressants and other drugs that work on the muscles of the bladder may help.

Some sufferers respond to an oral medication that restores the inner surface of the bladder, which protects the bladder wall from substances in urine that could irritate it.

Others get relief when a drug is instilled directly into the bladder. The use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (Tens), which delivers mild electrical pulses, may also relieve pelvic pain.

Bladder distention treatment using water or gas to stretch the bladder can also help. In rare cases, surgery may be required.