What are the Different Types of Interstitial Cystitis Treatment?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2020
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Interstitial cystitis treatment comes in a range of forms including traditional, complementary, and alternative options. Because this condition presents highly variably, it is not uncommon for people to need to try several treatments before they find one that works for them. Consulting a urologist can help patients learn more about interstitial cystitis treatment options. Some patients also work with practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to access treatments that a conventional care provider might not be aware of.

In interstitial cystitis, the patient's bladder becomes inflamed without an obvious infectious cause. The bladder and abdomen can be very sore and tender and patients usually feel a frequent urge to urinate. Urination can be painful and patients may have other symptoms like fatigue and a feeling of being generally unwell. Diagnostic tests can be run to visualize the bladder and rule out infections and other conditions that might cause similar symptoms. It is not possible to cure this condition, but there are treatments available.

Conventional interstitial cystitis treatment options include medications to reduce the inflammation, electrical nerve stimulation of the bladder to disrupt pain signals, bladder distention procedures, and bladder washes with medication. Physical therapy has also been shown to provide some benefits. In some cases, surgery may be considered as an interstitial cystitis treatment, usually when a patient has anatomical abnormalities that contribute to pain and inflammation in the bladder.


A urologist may also recommend dietary changes. Some foods act as triggers for patients and can cause painful inflammation in the bladder. Altering the diet can help alleviate symptoms. Permanent lifestyle changes can sometimes prevent the recurrence of interstitial cystitis.

Complementary and alternative medical treatments include herbal preparations to resolve the inflammation, the use of guided imagery, energy medicine, manipulative medicine, and practices like acupuncture and acupressure. Patients who choose to pursue complementary and alternative interstitial cystitis treatment options should consult their regular physicians to make sure that no treatments are contraindicated, and may find it helpful to work with a conventional physician who is familiar and comfortable with CAM to receive the best of both worlds in terms of treatment.

It can take time to determine if a treatment is having the desired effect and patients may need to try several treatments to find one that is effective. Continuity of care provided by the same person is an important aspect of interstitial cystitis treatment, as a doctor who has an established relationship with a patient can provide more personalized care.


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