Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or Painful Bladder Syndrome is a chronic inflammation of the bladder.  Symptoms can include uncomfortable bladder pressure, bladder pain as well as mild to severe pain in your pelvis.  The severity of symptoms can fluctuate, and some people may experience periods of remission.  The condition occurs most often in women but can also effect men and children.   Although there is no cure for IC, a variety of medications and other therapies, including pain management and dietary modification, can offer relief.

Initial Assessment

Upon seeking treatment for Interstitial Cystitis, an initial assessment will be done to determine the treatment plan that will work best for you.  First steps include:

  • Completing a bladder survey including past medical history, symptom severity and any treatments you’ve previously tried.
  • Categorizing your condition and seeing if there are any other associated conditions.
  • Performing urinalysis, a post-void bladder scan and possible imaging. 
  • A possible pelvic exam.
  • Keeping and reviewing a voiding diary.
You will also be instructed to make Lifestyle Modifications that may include:
  • Modifying fluid intake.
  • Weight loss.
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Avoiding bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, carbonation and acidic foods.
  • Monitoring your bowel habits (constipation).
Conservative Management

If lifestyle modifications have not improved your Interstitial Cystitis symptoms, next steps include:  

  • Referral to a pain specialist.
  • Medication (DMSO, Bladder instillations, amitriptyline).
Surgical Managment

For some women surgical intervention may be required.  Prior to surgery, urodynamic testing may be considered for further evaluation of bladder function.  Surgical options your provider may recommend include: 

  • Hydrodistention.
  • Urinary Diversion (if all other treatments failed).


Educational Resources
ICN Food List 
The Interstitial Cystitis Network Food List App is designed to help patients struggling with urinary discomfort choose foods that will soothe rather than irritate their bladders. Ideal for use when shopping or eating out, it contains a searchable database of more than 250 foods broken out into three categories: bladder friendly, try it and caution.