Some people with interstitial cystitis find symptom relief from these strategies:
Dietary changes. Eliminating or reducing foods in your diet that irritate your bladder 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. 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, worsen 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:
- 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 interstitial cystitis symptoms.
Interstitial cystitis can worsen your quality of life. Support from family and friends is important, but because the condition is a urinary problem, you may find the topic difficult to discuss.
Find a supportive doctor who is concerned about your quality of life as well as your condition. Seek someone who will work with you to help relieve your urinary frequency, urgency and bladder pain.
You might also benefit from joining a support group. A support group can provide sympathetic listening and useful information. Ask your doctor for information on support groups or see the Interstitial Cystitis Association on the web.
Aug. 12, 2017
- Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/interstitialcystitis/. Accessed July 1, 2016.
- Clemens JQ. Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 1, 2016.
- Interstitial cystitis. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary_disorders/voiding_disorders/interstitial_cystitis.html. Accessed July 1, 2016.
- Wein AJ, et al., eds. Bladder pain syndrome (interstitial cystitis) and related isorders. In: Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 1, 2016.
- Clemens JQ. Management of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 1, 2016.
- 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 July 1, 2016.
- Longo DL, et al., eds. Dysuria, bladder pain, and the interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed July 1, 2016.
- The urinary tract and how it works. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Anatomy/urinary-tract-how-it-works/Pages/anatomy.aspx. Accessed July 1, 2016.
- Castle EP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Ariz. July 7, 2016.
- Pang R, et al. The Chinese approach to complementary and alternative medicine for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. Translational Andrology and Urology. 2015;4:653.
- Carrico D, et al. Guided imagery for women with interstitial cystitis: results of a prospective, randomized controlled pilot study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2018;14:53.