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Treatments for Interstitial cystitis

Treatments for Interstitial cystitis:

There is no cure for interstitial cystitis, and no treatments have proven consistently effective for all people with the disease. A good treatment plan involves a multifaceted approach that focuses on the specific treatments that give the individual the most effective relief of symptoms. This may require a combination of medications, dietary and lifestyle changes, therapeutic treatments, and/or surgery.

Dietary changes include avoiding foods and fluids that irritate the bladder. Common irritants include aged cheeses, alcohol, citrus juices, tea, sour cream, tomatoes, yogurt, MSG, coffee, cured or processed meats, and many fruits.

Medications that may be effective in reducing some symptoms include certain antidepressants, pain medications, and a medication called Elmiron. There are also special medications that can be instilled directly into the bladder.

Therapies that may help symptoms of interstitial cystitis include bladder training. Surgery may also be necessary in some cases.

Treatment List for Interstitial cystitis

The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Interstitial cystitis includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

  • Diet changes
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise
  • Bladder training
  • Bladder diary
  • Bladder distention
  • Bladder instillation (bladder wash)
  • Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, RIMSO-50) - used for a bladder wash
  • Pentosan polysulfate sodium (Elmiron)
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Bladder surgery
    • Fulguration of ulcers
    • Resection of ulcers
    • Bladder augmentation
    • Cystectomy (bladder removal) - with various options for urine routing
    • Such as associated urostomy surgery
    • Saccral nerve root stimulation - a form of TENS requiring surgery
  • Cure has not yet been found. Symptoms may disappear without explanation or coincide with an event such as a change in diet or treatment. Even when symptoms disappear, however, they may return after days, weeks, months, or years
  • Treatment of interstitial cystitis is complex and no one treatment has proved effective in all cases. Treatment usually starts with the least invasive therapy and progresses in intensity depending upon response to therapy. Treatments include:
    • Adequate fluid intake - may limit inflammation and burning
    • Urinary alkalizers - decreases symptoms of urinary burning and urgency
    • Bladder retraining and behavioural therapy
    • Dietary management
    • Stress management
    • Medications used when infection has been excluded and/or treated
      • Elmiron - for interstitial cystitis
      • Antihistamines- hydroxyzine
      • Tricyclic antidepressants
      • Anticholinergic agents to treat urinary frequency
      • Antiinflammatories
      • Simple analgesics (avoid narcotics where possible)
    • Bladder instillation therapy - where various medications are instilled into the bladder to treat symptoms and decrease inflammation
    • Electrical stimulation therapy - TENS
    • Bladder surgery
      • Fulguration of ulcers
      • Resection of ulcers
      • Bladder augmentation
      • Cystectomy (bladder removal) - with various options for urine routing
      • Such as associated urostomy surgery
      • Saccral nerve root stimulation - a form of TENS requiring surgery
    • Complementary therapies

Interstitial cystitis: Is the Diagnosis Correct?

The first step in getting correct treatment is to get a correct diagnosis. Differential diagnosis list for Interstitial cystitis may include:

Hidden causes of Interstitial cystitis may be incorrectly diagnosed:

  • Bladder inflammation from radiation therapy
  • Unknown etiology
  • Unknown aetiology
  • more causes...»

Interstitial cystitis: Marketplace Products, Discounts & Offers

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Interstitial cystitis: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Drugs and Medications used to treat Interstitial cystitis:

Note:You must always seek professional medical advice about any prescription drug, OTC drug, medication, treatment or change in treatment plans.

Some of the different medications used in the treatment of Interstitial cystitis include:

Latest treatments for Interstitial cystitis:

The following are some of the latest treatments for Interstitial cystitis:

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Discussion of treatments for Interstitial cystitis:

Interstitial Cystitis: NIDDK (Excerpt)

Scientists have not yet found a cure for IC, nor can they predict who will respond best to which treatment. Symptoms may disappear without explanation or coincide with an event such as a change in diet or treatment. Even when symptoms disappear, they may return after days, weeks, months, or years. Scientists do not know why.

Because the causes of IC are unknown, treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms. Most people are helped for variable periods by one or a combination of treatments. As researchers learn more about IC, the list of potential treatments will change, so patients should discuss their options with a doctor.

Bladder Distention
Because many patients have noted an improvement in symptoms after a bladder distention done to diagnose IC, the procedure is often thought of as one of the first treatment attempts.

Researchers are not sure why distention helps, but some believe that it may increase capacity and interfere with pain signals transmitted by nerves in the bladder. Symptoms may temporarily worsen 24 to 48 hours after distention, but should return to predistention levels or improve after 2 to 4 weeks.

Bladder Instillation
During a bladder instillation, also called a bladder wash or bath, the bladder is filled with a solution that is held for varying periods of time, averaging 10 to 15 minutes, before being emptied.

The only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for bladder instillation is dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, RIMSO-50). DMSO treatment involves guiding a narrow tube called a catheter up the urethra into the bladder. A measured amount of DMSO is passed through the catheter into the bladder, where it is retained for about 15 minutes before being expelled. Treatments are given every week or two for 6 to 8 weeks and repeated as needed. Most people who respond to DMSO notice improvement 3 or 4 weeks after the first 6- to 8-week cycle of treatments. Highly motivated patients who are willing to catheterize themselves may, after consultation with their doctor, be able to have DMSO treatments at home. Self-administration is less expensive and more convenient than going to the doctor's office.

Doctors think DMSO works in several ways. Because it passes into the bladder wall, it may reach tissue more effectively to reduce inflammation and block pain. It may also prevent muscle contractions that cause pain, frequency, and urgency.

A bothersome but relatively insignificant side effect of DMSO treatments is a garlic-like taste and odor on the breath and skin that may last up to 72 hours after treatment. Long-term treatment has caused cataracts in animal studies, but this side effect has not appeared in humans. Blood tests, including a complete blood count and kidney and liver function tests, should be done about every 6 months.

A variety of other drugs, not yet approved by the FDA, have been used experimentally for bladder washes. In 1997, researchers from William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, reported promising results from a bladder wash containing bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a vaccine traditionally used to immunize against tuberculosis. This preparation is undergoing continuing clinical trials to determine how long the effect lasts in a larger sample of patients.

Oral Drugs
Pentosan polysulfate sodium (Elmiron), the first oral drug developed for IC, was approved by the FDA in 1996. In clinical trials, Elmiron improved symptoms in 38 percent of patients treated. Doctors do not know exactly how it works, but one theory is that it may repair defects that might have developed in the lining of the bladder.

The FDA-recommended dosage of Elmiron is 100 mg, three times a day. Patients may not feel relief from IC pain for the first 2 to 4 months. A decrease in urinary frequency may take up to 6 months. Patients are urged to continue with therapy for at least 6 months to give it an adequate chance to relieve symptoms.

Elmiron's side effects are limited primarily to minor gastrointestinal discomfort. A small minority of patients experienced some hair loss, but hair grew back when they stopped taking the drug. Researchers have found no negative interactions between Elmiron and other medications.

Elmiron may affect liver function, which should therefore be monitored by the doctor.

Because Elmiron has not been tested in pregnant women, the manufacturer recommends that it not be used during pregnancy, except in the most severe cases.

All drugs--even those sold over the counter--have side effects. Patients should always consult a doctor before using any drug for an extended time.

Other Oral Medications
Aspirin and ibuprofen are easy to obtain and may be a first line of defense against mild discomfort. Doctors may recommend other drugs to relieve pain.

Some patients have experienced improvement in their urinary symptoms by taking antidepressants or antihistamines. Antidepressants help reduce pain and may also help patients deal with the psychological stress that accompanies living with chronic pain. In patients with severe pain, narcotic analgesics such as Tylenol with codeine or longer acting narcotics may be necessary.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
With transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), mild electric pulses enter the body for minutes to hours two or more times a day either through wires placed on the lower back or just above the pubic area, between the navel and the pubic hair, or through special devices inserted into the vagina in women or into the rectum in men. Although scientists do not know exactly how TENS works, it has been suggested that the electric pulses may increase blood flow to the bladder, strengthen pelvic muscles that help control the bladder, or trigger the release of substances that block pain.

TENS is relatively inexpensive and allows the patient to take an active part in treatment. Within some guidelines, the patient decides when, how long, and at what intensity TENS will be used. It has been most helpful in relieving pain and decreasing frequency in patients with Hunner's ulcers. Smokers do not respond as well as nonsmokers. If TENS is going to help, improvement is usually apparent in 3 to 4 months.

There is no scientific evidence linking diet to IC, but many doctors and patients find that alcohol, tomatoes, spices, chocolate, caffeinated and citrus beverages, and high-acid foods may contribute to bladder irritation and inflammation. Some patients also note that their symptoms worsen after eating or drinking products containing artificial sweeteners. Patients may try eliminating various products from their diet and reintroducing them one at a time to determine which, if any, affect symptoms. It is important, however, to maintain a varied, well-balanced diet.

Many patients feel that smoking makes their symptoms worse. Because smoking is the major known cause of bladder cancer, one of the best things smokers can do for their bladder is to quit.

Many patients feel that gentle stretching exercises help relieve IC symptoms.

Bladder Training
People who have found adequate relief from pain may be able to reduce frequency by using bladder training techniques. Methods vary, but basically patients decide to void (that is, empty their bladder) at designated times and use relaxation techniques and distractions to keep to the schedule. Gradually, patients try to lengthen the time between scheduled voids. A diary that records voiding times is usually helpful in keeping track of progress.


Many approaches and techniques are used, each of which has its own advantages and complications that should be discussed with a surgeon. Surgery should be considered only if all available treatments have failed and the pain is disabling. Most doctors are reluctant to operate because the outcome is unpredictable--some people still have symptoms after surgery.

Those considering surgery should discuss the potential risks and benefits, side effects, and long- and short-term complications with a surgeon and with their family, as well as with people who have already had the procedure. Surgery requires anesthesia, hospitalization, and weeks or months of recovery, and as the complexity of the procedure increases, so do the chances for complications and failure.

To locate a surgeon experienced in performing specific procedures, check with your doctor.

Two procedures--fulgurationand resectionof ulcers--can be done with instruments inserted through the urethra. Fulguration involves burning Hunner's ulcers with electricity or a laser. When the area heals, the dead tissue and the ulcer fall off, leaving new, healthy tissue behind. Resection involves cutting around and removing the ulcers. Both treatments are done under anesthesia and use special instruments inserted into the bladder through a cystoscope. Laser surgery in the urinary tract should be reserved for patients with Hunner's ulcers and should be done only by doctors who have had special training and have the expertise needed to perform the procedure.

Another surgical treatment is augmentation, which makes the bladder larger. In most procedures, scarred, ulcerated, and inflamed sections of the patient's bladder are removed, leaving only the base of the bladder and healthy tissue. A piece of the patient's bowel (large intestine) is then removed, reshaped, and attached to what remains of the bladder. After the incisions heal, the patient may void less frequently. The effect on pain varies greatly; IC can sometimes recur on the segment of bowel used to enlarge the bladder.

Even in carefully selected patients--those with small, contracted bladders--pain, frequency, and urgency may remain or return after surgery, and the patient may have additional problems with infections in the new bladder and difficulty absorbing nutrients from the shortened intestine. Some patients are incontinent, while others cannot void at all and must insert a catheter into the urethra to empty the bladder.

Bladder removal, called a cystectomy,is another surgical option. Once the bladder has been removed, different methods can be used to reroute urine. In most cases, ureters are attached to a piece of bowel that opens onto the skin of the abdomen; this procedure is called a urostomy, and the opening is called a stoma. Urine empties through the stoma into a bag outside the body. Some urologists are using a second technique that also requires a stoma but allows urine to be stored in a pouch inside the abdomen. At intervals throughout the day, the patient puts a catheter into the stoma and empties the pouch. Patients with either type of urostomy must be very careful to keep the area in and around the stoma clean to prevent infection. Serious potential complications may include kidney infection and small bowel obstruction.

A third method to reroute urine involves making a new bladder from a piece of the patient's bowel and attaching it to the urethra. After healing, the patient may be able to empty the newly formed bladder by voiding at scheduled times or by inserting a catheter into the urethra. Few surgeons have the special training and expertise needed to perform this procedure.

Even after total bladder removal, some patients still experience variable IC symptoms in the form of phantom pain. Therefore, the decision to undergo a cystectomy should be undertaken only after testing all alternative methods and after seriously considering the potential outcome.

A surgical variation of TENS, called saccral nerve root stimulation,involves permanent implantation of electrodes and a unit emitting continuous electrical pulses. Studies of this experimental procedure are now under way. (Source: excerpt from Interstitial Cystitis: NIDDK)

Interstitial Cystitis (Bladder disorder): NWHIC (Excerpt)

Scientists have not yet found a cure for interstitial cystitis, nor can they predict who will respond best to which treatment. Symptoms may disappear without explanation or coincide with an event such as a change in diet or treatment. Even when symptoms disappear, however, they may return after days, weeks, months, or years. Scientists do not know why. Because doctors do not know what causes IC, treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms. Most people are helped for variable periods of time by one or a combination of treatments, many of which are described briefly in this booklet. However, as researchers learn more about IC, the list of potential treatments may change. Patients should discuss treatment options with a doctor. (Source: excerpt from Interstitial Cystitis (Bladder disorder): NWHIC)

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