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Interstitial Cystitis
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Interstitial cystitis (IC)

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Interstitial Cystitis - Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a clinical syndrome characterized by daytime and nighttime urinary frequency, urgency, and pelvic pain of unknown etiology. IC has an unclear etiology and pathophysiology and undefined diagnostic criteria. Despite considerable research, universally effective treatments do not exist, and therapy usually consists of a variety of supportive, behavioral, and pharmacological measures.

You may think you have a bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI) known as cystitis, but antibiotics haven't helped. Instead you may have interstitial cystitis, a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall. A rare condition that primarily affects women, interstitial cystitis can have a long-lasting adverse impact on your quality of life.

Although interstitial cystitis is chronic, for most people it isn't progressive, which means however mild or severe your symptoms, they won't get worse over time. For many, the severity of symptoms fluctuates, and for some, the condition goes into periods of remission. For a small percentage of people, symptoms worsen quickly, decreasing the size of the bladder and reducing the volume of urine it can hold.

Although there's no treatment available that eliminates the symptoms of interstitial cystitis, a number of medications and therapies may offer relief. Work with your doctor to find what works best for you.

Signs and symptoms 

The signs and symptoms vary from person to person. They also can vary in one individual. For instance, they can worsen during menstruation in premenopausal women. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Bladder pressure or pain that may increase when your bladder fills and decrease when you urinate.

  • Urgent need to urinate.

  • Frequent urination, day and night — eight or more times a day and two or more times a night. However, waking up to urinate (nocturia) tends to increase as you age, with once a night being common in your 60s and twice a night in your 70s.

  • Pain in your lower abdomen (suprapubic) or between the vagina and anus in women or the scrotum and anus in men (perineal).

  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

  • Chronic pelvic pain.


Your bladder is a hollow, muscular, balloon-shaped organ that stores urine until you're ready to empty it. In a healthy urinary system, the bladder can hold 8 to 10 ounces of urine comfortably for 2 to 5 hours, depending on how quickly it fills.

No one knows what causes interstitial cystitis. Experts suspect that it's a syndrome with more than one cause rather than a single disease. So far, two types have been identified:

  • Nonulcerative. Ninety percent of people with interstitial cystitis have the nonulcerative form, in which pinpoint (petechial) hemorrhages, also known as glomerulations, may occur on the bladder wall.

  • Ulcerative. The bladder of a person with ulcerative interstitial cystitis has ulcers, also known as Hunner's patches.

Some people with the condition have neither glomerulations nor ulcers.

Symptoms of interstitial cystitis resemble those of a UTI. However, urine cultures of people with interstitial cystitis usually prove to be free of bacteria. Experts have put forward a number of causal theories, including that interstitial cystitis is an autoimmune, infectious or allergic condition, but none has been proved.

Risk factors 

Interstitial cystitis appears to be associated with other chronic conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, vulvodynia, fibromyalgia and endometriosis. Also, people who have repeated urinary tract infections may be more prone to interstitial cystitis.

The condition primarily affects women between the ages of 30 and 70, but men and children also may experience interstitial cystitis.

Interstitial cystitis > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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