Frequently Asked Questions
About Interstitial Cystitis (IC) & CPP
What is IC?
Interstitial Cystitis is a disorder in which the bladder lining is chronically inflamed, leading to a variety of symptoms, including urinary frequency, urgency, hesitancy, spasms of the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, reduced bladder capacity, and mild, moderate, or severe pain. Discomfort is partially relieved by emptying the bladder, and it is worsened by having a full bladder. IC is not the same as a bladder infection, called cystitis, and IC is generally not responsive to antibiotics.
Until recently, most researchers and medical practitioners agreed that IC had no known cause (or etiology). Many questions remain to be answered regarding this painful and sometimes disabling disorder. Is IC a problem of nervous system hyperexcitability, or central nervous system "upregulation"? Is it a biological defect or abnormality in the bladder lining? Is it an autoimmune disorder, or an allergic response? IC exhibits all of these elements, which are discussed throughout the book.
How do I know if I have it?
IC should be diagnosed by a competent urologist, or uro-gynecologist, but a good primary care physician may be able to recognize the pattern of symptoms you are having, and refer you to a specialist if needed. Some physicians diagnose IC based on symptoms, while others will want you to have a cystoscopy, so they can look inside your bladder to visualize some of the characteristics associated with IC. And, researchers are hard at work trying to confirm and agree upon a specific "marker" to reliably test patients for IC.
How do I know if my urinary frequency is just overactive bladder or IC?
Unless you have taken a diuretic (a drug that increases urination), it is uncommon to void urine more than three times at night. This is true even if you have daytime frequency. Those with IC, in contrast, often get up four or more times each night, leading to impaired sleep and a weakened immune system. So, if you need to void four or more times nightly, and you experience other IC-like symptoms, it would be a good idea to see your physician for an accurate diagnosis, rather than simply treating your frequency with medications.
"Herbs are an economical and underused treatment for many chronic health conditions, and perhaps especially for IC. Many people with IC are very sensitive to medications, and herbs can offer an effective alternative with fewer side effects. Just be sure to let your doctor and your pharmacist know what you are taking, as herbs can interact with medications or cause other health concerns."
(From The Better Bladder Book)