Some people with interstitial cystitis find symptom relief from these strategies:
Dietary changes. Eliminating or reducing foods in your diet that are potential bladder irritants may help to relieve the discomfort of interstitial cystitis. Common bladder irritants — known as the "four Cs" — include: carbonated beverages, caffeine in all forms (including chocolate), citrus products and food containing high concentrations of vitamin C. Also consider avoiding similar foods, such as tomatoes, pickled foods, alcohol and spices. Artificial sweeteners may aggravate symptoms in some people.
If you think certain foods may irritate your bladder, try eliminating them from your diet. Reintroduce them one at a time and pay attention to which, if any, affect your signs and symptoms.
- Bladder training. Bladder training involves timed urination — going to the toilet according to the clock rather than waiting for the need to go. You start by urinating at set intervals, such as every half-hour — whether you have to go or not. Then you gradually wait longer between bathroom visits. During bladder training, you may learn to control urinary urges by using relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly and deeply or distracting yourself with another activity.
These self-care measures also may help:
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- Wear loose clothing. Avoid belts or clothes that put pressure on your abdomen.
- Reduce stress. Try methods such as visualization and biofeedback.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking may worsen any painful condition, and smoking contributes to bladder cancer.
- Exercise. Easy stretching exercises may help reduce your interstitial cystitis symptoms.
- Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/interstitialcystitis/. Accessed July 17, 2013.
- Clemens JQ. Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 17, 2013.
- Interstitial cystitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary_disorders/voiding_disorders/interstitial_cystitis.html. Accessed July 17, 2013.
- Wein AJ, et al. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 1, 2013.
- Clemens JQ. Management of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 17, 2013.
- Diagnosis and treatment of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. Linthicum, Md.: American Urological Association. http://www.auanet.org/education/guidelines/ic-bladder-pain-syndrome.cfm. Accessed Aug. 1, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Aug. 1, 2013.