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Interstitial Cystitis / Painful Bladder Syndrome

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Diet

There is no scientific evidence linking diet to IC / PBS, but many doctors and patients find that alcohol, tomatoes, spices, chocolate, caffeinated and citrus beverages, and high-acid foods may contribute to bladder irritation and inflammation. Some patients also note that their symptoms worsen after eating or drinking products containing artificial sweeteners. Patients may try eliminating various items from their diet and reintroducing them one at a time to determine which, if any, affect their symptoms. However, maintaining a varied, well balanced diet is important.

Smoking

Many patients feel that smoking makes their symptoms worse. How the by-products of tobacco that are excreted in the urine affect IC / PBS is unknown. Smoking, however, is the major known cause of bladder cancer. Therefore, one of the best things smokers can do for their bladder and their overall health is to quit.

Exercise

Many patients feel that gentle stretching exercises help relieve IC / PBS symptoms.

Bladder Training

People who have found adequate relief from pain may be able to reduce frequency by using bladder training techniques. Methods vary, but basically patients decide to void (empty their bladder) at designated times and use relaxation techniques and distractions to keep to the schedule. Gradually, patients try to lengthen the time between scheduled voids. A diary in which to record voiding times is usually helpful in keeping track of progress.

Surgery

Surgery should be considered only if all available treatments have failed and the pain is disabling. Many approaches and techniques are used, each of which has its own advantages and complications that should be discussed with a surgeon. Your doctor may recommend consulting another surgeon for a second opinion before taking this step. Most doctors are reluctant to operate because the outcome is unpredictable: Some people still have symptoms after surgery.

People considering surgery should discuss the potential risks and benefits, side effects, and long- and short-term complications with a surgeon and with their family, as well as with people who have already had the procedure. Surgery requires anesthesia, hospitalization, and weeks or months of recovery. As the complexity of the procedure increases, so do the chances for complications and for failure.

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