Lifestyle Changes to Help Control Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms

By: Urology Care Foundation | Posted on: 19 Nov 2015

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is also called Bladder Pain Syndrome. As Bladder Health Month hits full stride this week, we're raising awareness of this condition and the millions it affects.

IC symptoms range from mild to severe. The symptoms may come and go, or for some they might not ever go away. Most people with IC feel pain and pressure in the bladder area. Symptoms are similar to a bladder infection, but IC does not respond to antibiotics.

No one knows what causes about 4 million Americans to suffer from IC. About 8 in 10 people with this condition are women. The best IC treatment option should depend on what you decide with your doctor. Changes you make to your lifestyle may help control symptoms. This is often the first treatment used to manage IC.

Diet

Not all foods affect all people with IC the same way. Most (but not all) people with IC find that certain foods make their symptoms worse. Diet changes, such as avoiding citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons or limes) or spicy foods, and limiting caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol can help control symptoms. Cranberry products may also trigger irritation in an IC bladder.

Fruits considered to be more IC-friendly include pears, mild sweet apples and blueberries. The simplest way to find out whether any foods bother your bladder is to try an "elimination diet". On an elimination diet, you stop eating all of the foods that could irritate your bladder for 1 to 2 weeks in order to find out which foods cause you problems.

Stress Relief

Aside from changes to your diet, limiting stress can also help. Anyone who suffers IC symptoms is encouraged to come up with coping methods to deal with emotional and mental stress. Developing useful strategies may help better manage the pain.

Other Lifestyle Tips

  • Do not smoke (it can make symptoms worse).

  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing.

  • IC-friendly activities including yoga, Pilates and walking.

  • Train yourself to urinate less often once you have your pain under control.

  • For tenderness and/or pain in the pelvic floor area, manipulative physical therapy may help reduce symptoms.

To learn more visit UrologyHealth.org/IC. You'll find information about treatment options to consider when lifestyle changes do not help the pain enough.

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