Bladder Pain, Cystitis and Interstitial Cystitis (IC)
The Bladder is a hollow organ located in the lower part of the abdomen which stores urine - the waste produced by the kidneys which passes into the bladder through a small tube - the urethra.
Cystitis is a bacterial infection of the bladder. It is very common, with an estimated 50 to 70 per cent of women developing this infection at least once during their lifetime.
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is also referred to as Painful Bladder Syndrome is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder, also known as hypersensitive bladder. Unlike bacterial cystitis, it is not caused by common bacteria, and does not respond to traditional antibiotic treatment. IC is not stress-related. Pain can be also felt not only around the bladder, but also in the lower back, abdomen, anus, genitals and above the pubic bone area.
Other symptoms can include:
However, it is possible to have cystitis without developing any symptoms.
It is also important to note that although in most cases, mild cystitis can be successfully treated with a course of antibiotics, recurrent cystitis left untreated can lead to serious complications.
The severity of the condition varies – it can be fairly mild thorough to severe, when the patient experiences chronic pelvic pain. Symptoms can vary significantly amongst sufferers, with no two people experiencing the same combination or severity of the symptoms detailed below:
IC most commonly affects women, however it can also be found in men regardless of age or race. Risk factors can include having another member of the family being diagnosed with IC, and undergoing pelvic/ abdominal surgery prior to having any bladder pain related symptoms.
In 1999, The Cystitis and Overactive Bladder (COB) Foundation, a UK charity and patients support group, conducted a survey of its members where 64% of its members took part in the survey. The survey confirmed what the charity had suspected since it was established in 1994, that IC affects not just post-menopausal women only, which had always been believed, but also younger women and men, impacting significantly on their everyday lives and sexual relationships. The survey also showed that on average it took 6 years for the average person to be suffering with symptoms before receiving a diagnosis.
The survey also highlighted that sufferers of IC also had other medical conditions, with Back Pain, Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Bacterial Cystitis, Thrush and Sinusitis being cited by survery participants.
How does IC affect a sufferer’s life?
Bladder Pain Syndrome/ IC affects people in very different ways. Unfortunately there are no standard common symptoms for IC, but the way the condition can affect an individual's day to day life cannot be underestimated enough, with sufferers having difficulty in performing daily tasks which we all take for granted, such as shopping, leisure activities, housework and shopping The condition is often debilitating and may cause the sufferer to experience feelings of depression, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, insomnia and extreme fatigue (Source- The Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation).
The majority of sufferers find that their life revolves around constantly having to find out where the nearest toilet facilities are. Therefore, any trip away from home requires careful consideration and planning and as a consequence some sufferers of IC can find themselves almost housebound. Obviously this can lead to other problems such as social isolation and depression. Severe tiredness can also occur if the sufferer has to get up repeatedly during the night to go to the toilet. Sufferers may also be in constant pain which can have a detrimental effect on their relationships and working lives. Pain is often only relieved when actually emptying the bladder and is therefore only momentary.
A large number of sufferers find that certain foods, drink and even clothing can aggravate their condition and their diet can become very restricted.
The most common cause of cystitis is infection from bacteria. Women are affected more often than men because in women the urethra – the tube which passes urine out from the bladder – is shorter than in men and more easily contaminated by bacteria from the bowel. Cystitis can also occur in men and children. This is usually due to problems with the urinary function or abnormalities in anatomy.
Cystitis can also be introduced into the urinary system for other reasons, for example:
Testing for cystitis
In most cases, a simple urine test can be undertaken to detect whether bacteria causing cystitis is present. If the condition is recurrent and/or accompanied by serious complications such as fever, it is important that an ultrasound scan of the kidneys is undertaken. This is to check for any abnormalities and ensure the bladder is being correctly emptied. For patients with recurrent cystitis you my need a telescopic examination of the bladder called a cystoscopy, which is a procedure in which a doctor inserts a lighted instrument, called a cystoscope, into the urethra in order to examine the inside of the urethra and the bladder.
The cystoscope is as thin as a pencil and has lenses like a telescope or microscope. These lenses let the doctor focus on the inner surfaces of the urinary tract. The images are transferred to a camera and a monitor system with option for you to watch the procedure if you wish.
The cause of IC is not fully understood. It may be triggered by a rare organism, or may be related to abnormalities in the nerve endings or the lining of the bladder. Sufferers of IC often spend a long period being treated with conventional antibiotics for cystitis without success, before being diagnosed with IC.
The condition is diagnosed by a number of different tests – it is necessary to rule out other causes of bladder problems before establishing IC as the cause of problems. Therefore patients will need to undergo a urodynamics test and cystoscopy.
Tel : 0121 446 1684 Fax : 0121 446 1679 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Birmingham and Solihull Bladder Clinic - BMI The Priory Hospital - Priory Road - Edgbaston - Birmingham - B5 7UG