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Bladder Pain

Interstitial Cystitis continued...

Bladder distention. While you are asleep under anesthesia, the doctor fills your bladder with a liquid to stretch its walls. Bladder distention is a technique used to diagnose IC, but it also helps relieve pain for some patients, possibly because it increases the bladder capacity or interferes with the nerves that transmit pain signals from the bladder.

Nerve stimulation. For some patients, a technique called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) helps relieve pain and the urge to urinate. Electrodes placed on the skin or implanted in the body send electrical impulses to the nerves controlling the bladder. This technique can help strengthen the muscles controlling the bladder, and may trigger the release of chemicals that block pain.

Acupuncture. Limited research has shown that acupuncture may provide relief to some people with interstitial cystitis.

Surgery. If other treatments aren't working and your bladder pain won't go away, the doctor may recommend surgery as a last resort.

The following lifestyle changes may also help relieve IC:

Diet. Certain foods, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate, or alcohol, may worsen symptoms of IC for some people. To identify which foods, if any, irritate your bladder, keep a diary of what you eat during the day. When you have flare-ups of bladder pain, see if you can find a pattern in your diet.

Bladder retraining. This method can help if you're constantly feeling the urge to urinate. Keep a diary of when you use the bathroom. Gradually try to increase the time between bathroom trips, for example, by 10-minute increments. Eventually you'll be able to go longer periods of time without urinating.

Stress management. People with IC often report worsening of symptoms related to increased physical, mental, or emotional stress.

Pelvic floor exercises. Repeatedly squeeze and release the muscles that control urination to help strengthen these muscles. A doctor or nurse can help you find the right muscles to exercise.

Urinary Tract Infection

The urinary tract is normally sterile, but sometimes bacteria can sneak in through the urethra, which connects the bladder with the outside of the body. A urinary tract infection can affect any part of the urinary system, including the bladder, ureters, urethra, and kidneys. However, it is most common in the bladder (cystitis). Women are much more likely than men to develop a bladder infection.

Symptoms of a bladder infection may include:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Pain or tenderness in the abdomen
  • Cloudy, bloody, or foul-smelling urine
  • Low-grade fever

Doctors diagnose urinary tract infections by taking a urine sample and testing it for bacteria.

Antibiotics can be prescribed for a few days to treat a bladder infection. Also, drink plenty of fluids to flush bacteria out of your urinary tract.

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