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Interstitial Cystitis Questions

Questions & Answers

What does the name interstitial cystitis mean? Why are doctors now calling it bladder pain syndrome or painful bladder syndrome?

Interstitial cystitis was first named in the 1800s. At that time, it was thought that the symptoms were caused by an infection in the inner lining (interstitial) of the bladder (cystitis means bladder infection). That is why it was first called interstitial cystitis.  Researchers now know that IC is not a bladder infection. The symptom that is most bothersome is the bladder pain. This is the reason for the alternative names. Luckily, they are also easier to pronounce!

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Why does it take so long to diagnosis IC?

There is no test to diagnosis IC. Instead, doctors must make the diagnosis by excluding other conditions that have similar symptoms. If certain tests are not positive for other conditions, then your doctor may diagnosis you with IC. In addition, not all doctors are familiar with IC. This means that you may need to see a specialist like a urologist or urogynecologist to confirm the diagnosis of IC.

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How does pregnancy affect IC?

For many women with IC, the symptoms wain during pregnancy. We don’t know the reason for the improvement in symptoms. Researchers think that it may relate to hormonal changes. But, for some women their IC symptoms remain the same. Therefore, the exact reason for the change in symptoms is not known.

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Should I avoid all fruits and vegetables because they contain natural acids that can burn the bladder?

There is a lot of information on the internet that advocates for not eating acidic foods. However, this information is not correct. When your body digests acidic foods (like orange juice), it can make your urine less acidic. In contrast, low-acid foods like meats and other protein foods, increase the acidity of your urine.

At this time, we don’t know why certain foods bother people with IC. It is recommended that women with IC start by eliminating the list of most bothersome foods. These items appear to impact many people with IC. If you want to learn more about other foods that might be triggering your IC, ask a dietitian about how to do an elimination diet to help determine other foods that might be bothersome for you.

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Is it safe for women with IC to take probiotics?

There is limited evidence supporting the use of probiotics for IC symptoms.  In fact, many with IC report that tempeh, soy beverages, and fermented milks - which contain natural probiotics - provoke IC symptoms. Other patients, however, have found that probiotic supplements help control their symptoms.

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