Interstitial Cystitis Treatment in Charlotte, NC

When the bladder becomes filled with urine, the pelvic nerves communicate to the brain that it is time to urinate. For those with interstitial cystitis (IC), these signals may fire too frequently or at the wrong time, causing the urge to urinate even when there is only a small amount of urine in the bladder. The effects of this urinary condition can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. Women with IC can experience reduced bladder capacity, sexual intimacy issues, loss of sleep, and significant emotional stress. Dr. Tapscott is a board-certified urologist with fellowship-training at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Tapscott has extensive experience diagnosing and treating patients for interstitial cystitis.

What are the Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?

The symptoms of interstitial cystitis can vary for each patient, but these are among the most common symptoms reported by patients with IC:

  • Pressure or pain in the bladder that often becomes worse as the bladder fills.
  • Lower abdomen, lower back, or pelvic pain can also be felt by some patients. The pain can range from intermittent to constant.
  • Frequent urination is an early sign of interstitial cystitis and is characterized as urinating more than 7 times per day and/or waking up to go in the middle of the night.
  • The urgency to urinate may never go away for some patients, even after urinating.

What are the Causes & Risks of Interstitial Cystitis?

The exact cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown, but several risk factors could increase an individual’s chances of developing this condition, including:

  • Gender is a major contributing factor as 90% of patients with Interstitial cystitis are women. When men experience symptoms of IC, they are typically linked to prostate gland inflammation.
  • The age of patients who are diagnosed with IC tends to be 40 or older.
  • A defect in the bladder’s lining can allow an irritating substance to affect the bladder.
  • Chronic pain disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia have been associated with interstitial cystitis.

How Interstitial Cystitis Diagnosed?

No test can definitively determine whether interstitial cystitis is or is not present. Dr. Tapscott will determine whether the patient’s symptoms are consistent with IC, and will then order routine examinations to ensure that other health issues are not causing these symptoms. A physical and neurological evaluation may also be performed. The physical exam will consist of an assessment of the abdomen and organs in the pelvic area. The neurological exam will be performed to rule out any potential mental health or anxiety disorders that could be causing the patient’s symptoms.

How is Interstitial Cystitis Treated?

Symptoms can take weeks or even months to improve and the issue may never be completely cured. The treatment of interstitial cystitis will begin with minimally invasive measures and escalate progressively if symptoms are not improving:

First Phase: Home & Lifestyle Treatment

Dr. Tapscott may recommend some simple lifestyle changes including a change of diet, bladder retraining (holding urine for longer and longer periods to regain muscle control,) low-impact exercises, and wearing looser clothing.

Second Phase: Prescription Medication

If lifestyle changes are unable to control the patient’s symptoms, medications to calm the bladder may be prescribed. These medications can be taken orally or can be placed into the bladder directly through a catheter.

Third Phase: Injections

Injecting small amounts of Botox can help to paralyze the bladder muscles that are inflicting any pain, and can also alleviate symptoms.

Fourth Phase: Cyclosporine

The medication is infrequently used because of its immune system lowering effects. All patients should thoroughly discuss the risks of this option with Dr. Tapscott.

Fifth Phase: Surgery

Surgery is reserved for patients who have tried the first four phases of treatment and have achieved a significant improvement in their symptoms.