Raising awareness of Interstitial Cystitis
Interstitial cystitis (also known as painful bladder, leaky bladder or irritated bladder syndrome) is a chronic, multifactorial syndrome characterized by a combination of pelvic pain, pressure, or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region, often associated with urinary frequency and urgency.
New research supports that interstitial cystitis is much more prevalent than originally thought, with 3 to 8 million women in the US that may have it.
I really wanted to create more awareness surrounding IC with this blog post, as it’s frequently misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection and patients may go years without a correct diagnosis.
Signs and symptoms often resemble those of a chronic urinary tract infection, but the difference is that urine cultures are usually free of bacteria. IC often occurs around age 30 or 40, although it has been reported in younger people.
There are several theories that have been proposed for IC involving hormones, chronic inflammation, and the immune system. The reason why IC is often referred to as “leaky bladder” is because the lining of the bladder becomes inflamed and damaged, leading to permeability. This allows toxins from the urine to penetrate and irritate the bladder.
One common theme for individuals with IC is that they find avoiding certain foods and beverages helpful in preventing flare-ups.
The Interstitial Cystitis Association suggests that the following foods should be avoided:
- Aged cheese
- Artificial sweeteners – aspartame, sucralose
- Carbonated drinks
- Spicy foods
- Cranberry juice
- Processed, smoked or cured meats (deli meats)
- Some fruits – banana, strawberry, pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, plums
The good new is there are some key supplements that some of my patients find very helpful for managing their IC symptoms:
A bioflavonoid that has anti-inflammatory properties that help calm the bladder wall during a flare up.
A very soothing herb that can also help with the healing and inflammation in the bladder.
A common bladder and kidney herb that possesses anti-inflammatory properties. I often recommend corn silk tea.
Recognized for anti-inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis but also very helpful for those with IC.
Omega 3s help to support anti-inflammatory pathways in the body and thus reduce inflammation in the bladder.
Liver Support – EstroSense
Hormones such as too much estrogen can be a trigger for individuals with IC, thus supporting healthy estrogen levels by supporting the liver might help in reducing potential flare-ups.
If you’ve had a persistent urinary tract infection and things just aren’t getting better, it might be a good idea to talk to your MD or Naturopath about IC. Stay well!