Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition that causes bladder pain, pressure, and urinary frequency. It also sometimes involves pelvic pain that ranges from mild discomfort to severe pain. I was diagnosed with this condition late in 2013 and am in much less pain than I was prior to treatment. The exact causes of IC are unknown, and from what I’ve read, several factors are generally contributing to the condition. Some folks with IC have a defective bladder lining, which allows toxic substances in urine to irritate the bladder wall (fun, fun!). Other factors I’ve read about say that it is an autoimmune reaction, hereditary, or an allergy of some kind.
My treatment has involved medication and diet changes. From what I’ve read, diet changes are one of the best ways to improve quality of life for folks with IC. I started the elimination diet right before the December holiday season was in full swing and knew it would be difficult. However, I was in such misery, it was really worth it so I could find some relief from the pain. I have figured out that there are particular foods that cause a lot of difficulty for me, and some that only cause mild irritation. The ones that cause mild irritation I allow myself to have now and then, the ones that cause more difficulty I avoid at all costs. The big triggers for me are soy, buttermilk, and blackberries (one of my favorites). Following the elimination diet also allowed me to find out which foods irritated my stomach, which means I no longer eat garlic, onions, or popcorn. I still haven’t figured out all my triggers, but I’m learning more all the time. Some days I feel really sorry for myself and whine a lot, other days, I’m damned happy I’m not in as much pain as I used to be and am grateful that I had a doctor who was able to diagnose it.
Below are some sites with info on interstitial cystitis that I’ve found helpful. If you have some suggestions for other sites, please let me know!
Interstitial Cystitis Foundation: This site has info on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. It also has information on living with IC, support for folks with IC and their loved ones, and other info.
Confident Choices: This site is run by Julie Beyer, a registered dietitian who also has IC. The site has info on IC, the IC diet, recipes, supplements, and the best IC books. I just got her Confident Choices cookbook and really like the recipes included.