Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a condition with many symptoms including bladder pain and pressure, pain in the pelvis which can be mild to severe, and frequent urination with or without urgency. The bladder pain can feel like a burning pain, mimicking UTI (urinary tract infection) symptoms. In severe cases, a stabbing pain in the bladder and pelvis can be felt. Most patients who are afflicted with interstitial cystitis are women, and the impact on their lives can be debilitating. Although there is no cure at present, there are ways to reduce symptoms. Drug therapies can work at reducing symptoms, but some patients would rather go a more natural way in treating their symptoms.
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Changes In Diet
Reducing bladder irritants can help with interstitial cystitis symptoms. Acidic foods such as coffee, tomatoes and alcohol should be eliminated. Artificial sweeteners have shown to be an irritant. You can keep a food journal and list foods that seem to aggravate the bladder and those that don't.
Training The Bladder
By training the bladder you may be able to reduce the frequency with which you have to urinate. Set a regular interval such as every half an hour to go to the bathroom whether you need to or not. Then gradually you wait longer and longer between trips. This process helps retrain the bladder and the urge to urinate. Relaxation and breathing exercises can also help to relax the bladder.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Stretching the pelvic floor muscles may reduce painful spasms in the bladder. It is best to learn pelvic floor exercises from a trained physiotherapist so that you don't damage your muscles. The physiotherapist may include biofeedback with your sessions. Later you should be able to do the exercises at home.
Other Natural Treatments
Wearing loose clothes that put less pressure on your stomach or bladder will help. Reducing stress, which can trigger painful bladder spasms, is important. Listening to relaxation tapes or soaking in a warm tub will relax muscles. Smoking is bad for the bladder, so if you smoke it's important to stop.
Interstitial cystitis can be emotionally and physically crippling depending on the severity. Finding an understanding physician or urologist who will work with you and is concerned about your problem is very important. Support groups are available. You can find out more about interstitial cystitis at the website ichelp.com or by calling (800) 435-7422.
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