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Interstitial cystitis (IC)
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Interstitial cystitis (IC)

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Some people with interstitial cystitis find relief with self-care methods, such as:

  • Dietary changes. Although no scientific evidence links interstitial cystitis to diet, some people find that reducing intake or eliminating alcohol, tomatoes, spices, chocolate, caffeinated beverages, citrus fruits and juices, and other acidic foods may relieve their discomfort, possibly by decreasing bladder irritation. Artificial sweeteners may aggravate symptoms in some people, as well. If you think certain foods make you feel worse, try eliminating them from your diet. Reintroduce them one at a time to determine which, if any, affect your symptoms.

  • Bladder training. These techniques may help reduce urinary frequency. The training involves timed urination — going to the bathroom according to the clock rather than waiting for the need to go. You start by urinating at set intervals, such as every half-hour — whether you have to go or not. Then you gradually lengthen the time between urination. In addition, bladder training may involve learning to control the urge to urinate by using relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly and deeply, or distracting yourself with another activity.

It may help to wear loose clothing and avoid belts or clothes that put pressure on your abdomen. Other self-care methods include stress reduction techniques, such as visualization and meditation, low-impact exercise and gentle stretching. In addition, smoking may worsen symptoms, so quitting may offer relief, as well as a host of other health benefits. Also, although there's no evidence that interstitial cystitis increases the risk of bladder cancer, smoking is a major risk factor.

Coping skills 

Interstitial cystitis can have a profound adverse effect on your quality of life. Support from family and friends is important, but because the condition is a urinary problem, you may find it difficult to discuss.

Try self-care strategies to determine which ones offer relief. Perhaps most important, find a compassionate physician who is concerned about your quality of life as well as your condition and will work with you to help alleviate your pain.

Ask your doctor about working with a clinic that treats chronic pain syndromes.


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