A healthy bladder is protected by a bladder wall, which is a lining that protects it from toxins. However, an infection or a chronic health condition called interstitial cystitis can irritate and break down the bladder wall, requiring personal and medical intervention to restore. It takes knowledge, medication, lifestyle modification and patience to adequately maintain a bladder that has been damaged. By using a mixture of medicine and natural supplements, the bladder can often be healed, reducing or getting rid of worrisome symptoms and pain.
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Drink 8 cups of water daily to flush out bacteria.
Take a vitamin C tablet.
Avoid coffee, alcohol, soft drinks with caffeine, citrus juices and spicy foods for one to two weeks because these could increase irritation of the bladder wall and slow healing.
Avoid sugary foods, which can feed bacterial growth.
Take an over-the-counter medication for urinary tract infections.
Take a cranberry supplement or drink cranberry juice, which is a natural healing agent for the bladder.
Take a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Take the entire course, even if you start to feel better; otherwise not all the bacteria will be killed and your infection could return. (see references 1-2)
Follow the interstitial cystitis diet, which cuts out excessively acidic foods that cause further irritation and damage to the bladder lining.
Reduce your stress level, which slows the process of healing.
Take a natural supplement, such as Cysta-Q, CystoProtek, Algonot or Bladder Q, all of which are thought to help protect a damaged bladder wall. While all supplements have slightly different ingredients, make sure you purchase one that is geared specifically toward repairing and reducing inflammation in an IC bladder.
Take Prelief, a supplement that reduces harmful acids in foods, right before eating to lower the chances that the food will cause further damage to the bladder wall.
Take Elmiron, the only FDA-approved oral drug for interstitial cystitis. It is thought to work by restoring the inner surface of the bladder that is damaged because of IC and protects the bladder wall from irritating substances.
Undergo a bladder distension, which will stretch the bladder and may lead to greater bladder capacity and less frequency. A urologist will perform the distension, which can be done in office with local anesthetics or in the operating room under general anaesthesia.
Get a bladder instillation to calm and heal the bladder wall. DMSO treatment is the only FDA-approved instil for IC and is thought to work by breaking down scar tissue on the bladder wall, reducing inflammation and preventing muscle contractions that cause frequent urination. A DMSO instil should contain less than 35 per cent of dimethyl sulfoxide with the rest being made up of saline and sometimes a local anesthetic such as lidocaine. Rescue instillations work by reducing inflammation and discomfort of the bladder immediately, but may not have long-lasting effects. Both rescue and DMSO instils are done by a urologist, who empties the solution into your bladder through a catheter.
Undergo surgery if no conventional method of restoring the bladder lining has worked. A doctor can perform a fulguration or resection to get rid of painful ulcers on the bladder wall or replace damaged bladder sections with a piece of the colon during an augmentation.
Have your bladder removed only in extreme situations where the bladder wall is completely destroyed and no conventional methods have restored it. During the procedure your doctor will replace the old bladder with a new one made out of a piece of colon. Your doctor will inform you on how to take care of your new bladder, in which the wall generally produces more mucus than the original bladder. This may or may not alleviate your symptoms, but it can provide a healthier bladder wall if you have extensive damage. (see references 3-5)
Tips and warnings
- It is always good to get tested using an over-the-counter method or by seeing your doctor to see whether you have a urinary tract infection before treating yourself. Some treatments that aid in healing a bladder infected by a UTI, such as drinking cranberry juice, can cause extensive damage to a bladder damaged by interstitial cystitis.
- Take prescription medications only if you have been directed to by a doctor. Do not take another person's prescription medications, and follow your doctor's directions for taking your medication.
- This is not a complete list of treatments for these urological conditions. This article explains treatments aimed only at treating the bladder wall specifically.
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