“A person usually feels the urge to urinate several times a day. Pressure in the bladder causes this feeling, which should disappear after a person urinates. However, some people experience this pressure constantly, and it may feel like an ache. This is not normal and is likely caused by interstitial cystitis. This condition is sometimes known simply as bladder pain syndrome”, says a medical publication, published in Medical News Today.
The condition is more common in adults than children. Also, twice as many women have interstitial cystitis than men, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Causes of Bladder Pain Syndrome
The medical community is unsure what causes interstitial cystitis or the bladder pressure involved.
The publication further explains that usually, as the bladder fills up, it sends signals to the brain, telling it to use the bathroom. The body interprets this communication as the need to urinate.
Researchers suspect that in people who experience persistent bladder pressure, signals to urinate are sent more frequently than necessary.
Other causes of persistent bladder pressure can include:
- damage to the bladder lining
- reactions of the immune system
There are Contributing risk factors that can increase the risk of developing interstitial cystitis. The presence of other health conditions may increase the likelihood of developing persistent bladder pressure. These conditions include chronic pain or fatigue and irritable bowel.
Symptoms of Bladder Pain Syndrome
The most notable symptom of interstitial cystitis is bladder pressure or pain, which can range from mild to severe. The pain or pressure may also be constant, or it may fade and return.
Other symptoms of interstitial cystitis may include:
- a constant urge to urinate
- pain during sex
- pelvic discomfort
- frequent, low-volume urination throughout the day
A person may easily mistake interstitial cystitis for a urinary tract infection because many symptoms are similar.
According to the publication, a doctor may use a urine test to help rule out a urinary tract infection.
A person with lasting bladder pressure should see a doctor, who can rule out a urinary tract infection and diagnose interstitial cystitis.
The doctor will likely test a urine sample and examine the pelvic region. If the doctor detects no infection, they will often perform a physical exam. After this, the doctor may order one or more of the following tests:
- a cystoscopy, in which a thin tube carrying a camera is inserted into the bladder
- a urine cytology test, which shows whether abnormal cells are in the urine
- urodynamic studies, which measure pressure as the bladder fills and empties
The doctor may also collect a sample of tissue from the lining of the bladder to rule out cancer.
Treatment of Bladder Pain Syndrome
The publication enumerates that the treatment of bladder pressure often varies from person to person. A person may discuss the following options with their doctor:
- physical therapy
- antihistamine medication to help with urgency
- pentosan polysulfate sodium, which may block irritants in urine
- tricyclic antidepressants, which can relax the bladder
- over-the-counter pain medications
- surgery, in rare cases
Some medicines may be inserted directly into the bladder. New additional therapies that may help with interstitial cystitis are “Bladder Distension” and “Nerve Stimulation”.
Bladder distention is done with the person under anesthesia, a doctor will fill the bladder with air, which can increase capacity for urine. In nerve stimulation, the doctor uses transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to relieve pain and urgency.
This procedure helps to strengthen the muscles around the bladder and can keep impulses sent from the bladder to the brain under control. It is not effective in all patients, however.
Wearing loose-fitting clothing may help to reduce pressure on the bladder.
Basic lifestyle changes can prevent persistent bladder pressure.
The best tip is to avoid foods and drinks that trigger these feelings of pressure. While no link between diet and bladder pressure has been proven, research strongly suggests it may help to avoid the following:
- caffeinated beverages
- foods rich in vitamin C
- alcoholic beverages
- artificial sweeteners
- pickled foods
- fizzy drinks
- citrus fruits
A person may want to identify triggers of bladder pressure specific to them. It may help to keep a record of each meal and whether the symptom was present.