Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition with symptoms including burning, pressure, and pain in the bladder along with urinary urgency and frequency. Other names for IC are bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and painful bladder syndrome (PBS).
IC occurs in 3 to 7 percent of women. Though it is more common in women, men are also affected. Women are usually diagnosed in their 40s, but younger and older women have IC, too.
Am I at Risk?
The cause of IC is unknown. It is likely due to a combination of factors or maybe different factors for different people.
IC runs in families. And so, if someone in your family has IC, you are more at risk for this chronic bladder pain condition.
Women with IC also appear to have some increased sensitivities. For example, for most people, the toxins found naturally in urine don’t bother them. However, for people with IC, a defect in the bladder lining, may cause them to be more sensitive to these toxins and cause the pain and discomfort of IC.
Other research found that the nerves in and around the bladder of people with IC are hypersensitive. This may also be another reason for the severe and persistent bladder pain and discomfort.
Another theory is that an allergic component with release of specific inflammatory cells known as mast cells occurs in the bladder and can lead to IC in some people. This inflammatory reaction is similar to people with other allergic conditions such as eczema and seasonal or environmental allergies. Allergies might be the reason some people with IC are bothered by certain foods as well. More studies are needed to test this theory.