Causes of Interstitial Cystitis

Causes of Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis (IC) consists of an inflammation of the bladder wall that has continued for some time and causes pain. In most cases, the condition is very painful due to the consistent inflammation of tissue.  Doctors often misdiagnose it as urinary tract infection and a number of patients deal with this illness for years without getting the correct diagnosis.

Causes and Risk Factors

To date, there’s no definitive cause for interstitial cystitis and it strikes women in the 30 to 40 age range most often. Women are 10 times more likely to suffer with this than men. Changes in your diet may help control your symptoms and certain foods are shown to aggravate the condition, and the bladder, more than others. These should be avoided if possible and they include:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Coffee, tea, alcohol and citrus juices
  • Aged cheeses and chocolate
  • Meats that are canned, processed, cured, smoked, aged, or contain nitrites
  • Sourdough and rye bread
  • Most fruits except honeydew melon, blueberries, and pears
  • Nuts except cashews, almonds, and pine nuts
  • Onions and tomatoes
  • Seasonings containing MSG
interstitial cystitis symptoms

Photo by: Ashley Rose via Flickr.Com

Your doctor may suggest eliminating these foods one at a time to see if your symptoms are decreased. There may be only one or two foods on the list that cause pain.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of interstitial cystitis include pain in the pelvic region, pain during intercourse, and urinary discomfort, frequency or urgency. Those who have suffered for a number of years often have depression because of how IC pain changes their lifestyle.


Testing for IC can be difficult and time consuming because the illness has no known cause. Usually, the safest method of diagnosing IC is simply to rule out everything else. Your doctor might begin with a urinalysis to check for UTI, then move on to a bladder biopsy or Cystoscopy. The Cystoscopy is a telescopic examination of the bladder. A urine cytology may also be performed. This is used to detect inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract and bladder cancer.


Today, there is no known cure for IC, and treatments are performed on a trial and error basis. Your doctor will try a number of cures to find one that works for you. Each patient is different and what works for one, may not work for another. There are medications available like Elmiron, which coats the bladder similar to the way Pepto-Bismol coats the stomach lining.

Other treatments include pain killing drugs, antidepressants such as amitriptyline and vistaril, which causes sleepiness and can help reduce urinary frequency. A number of natural treatments are often used as well such as biofeedback techniques to control the bladder and relaxation techniques meant to calm the bladder. Often the most helpful thing a patient can do is make a few dietary changes.

All Female Staff at All Women Urology

Interstitial Cystitis

Dr. Nancy Lobby works with many patients experiencing the awful pain of interstitial cystitis. Her background and training equip her to diagnose and treat this condition with great success. As a woman and professional urologist, she understands how this condition can affect your quality of life and intimacy with your partner.

The staff at All Women Urology is mostly comprised of women because Dr. Lobby believes that her patients will enjoy being at ease and able to discuss any condition. Many women are embarrassed to talk about things like interstitial cystitis with a male doctor. At All Women Urology, patients can relax and speak openly to the doctor, nurse or staff members about any female condition.