Chronic inflammation of the bladder is known as interstitial cystitis, or IC. IC causes painful, frequent, and urgent urination. This can cause significant changes in quality of life.

Why It Occurs
The bladder has a lining known as the epithelium. This layer is coated with enzymes that protect it from toxins that occur naturally in the urine. When a patient has interstitial cystitis, the layer of enzymes is defective. This allows toxins to enter the epithelium, causing irritation and urination problems.

Interstitial cystitis affects around 700,000 Americans, with 90% of them being women. The condition usually shows up after the patient turns 40. However, children can have the condition, and it is often misdiagnosed when symptoms first occur in younger patients.

Interstitial cystitis has a variety of symptoms. Some patients experience pelvic pain. However, this does not have to be true for the condition to be present. The most common way IC is diagnosed is through urinary complications. Patients with IC will experience frequent, urgent needs to urinate, often accompanied by pain. Pain during sex can also indicate the condition is present.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Urine cultures, urinalysis, and prostatic fluid analysis will be used to rule out other conditions. To diagnose IC, most physicians use a cystoscopy. Sometimes a biopsy is used. IC has no cure, but symptoms can be relieved through medications, diet modification, and nerve stimulation therapy.