Interstitial cystitis

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a bladder condition that causes discomfort, pain, urinary frequency, or an urge to urinate.  The cause of this condition is unknown.  IC is often associated with other conditions that cause pain, such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome.  This condition is more common in women than in men.

Despite the name, there is no known inflammation of the bladder in this condition.  There are chemical differences on the surface of the bladder in people affected with this condition. 

IC is diagnosed after an interview and physical exam, urine tests, and sometimes a test of the bladder anatomy or function (cystoscopy or urodynamic testing).


Some foods or beverages that irritate the bladder should be avoided.  These may be sweeteners, spicy foods, alcohol or caffeine.  Regular trips to the bathroom are helpful to prevent urgency.  The pain of IC is sometimes treated with medicines specific for the bladder, such as phenozapyridine. Sometimes stronger pain is treated with lidocaine or sodium bicarbonate, although these are not shown to help in clinical trials.  In some cases, a daily medicine called amitriptyline is helpful for this condition.


Kim HJ, Int Neurourol J., 2016, Mar: 20(1):13-17, Update on the Pathology and Diagnosis of Interstitital Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome