Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a bladder condition that effects about 1 in 26 people in the United States. It is painful and can make life very difficult. It is also very hard to treat. Here are some of the treatment options and some concerns that patients with IC have to deal with.

There is no cure for IC and the goal of doctors and patients is to relieve as many symptoms and make life as comfortable as possible. Often this requires a variety of medications, dietary changes, and supplements. For most patients complete relief is not something that is actually available even after spending hundreds in medications each month, however here are some of the options for treating IC to relieve some of the symptoms.

  • Elmiron is the only medications that are specifically for IC. This coats the bladder with a protective coating and for some IC patients it reduces pain and other symptoms. It can also reduce the number of flairs. However it is really expensive costing several dollars a pill and often requiring several pills a day to be effective. It is also something that doesn't work for all IC patients. One may have great success with it while another may not notice any reduction in symptoms with it.
  • Other medications are often tried to reduce the pain and frequency of urination. Sometimes this includes heavy duty pain killers, antidepressants that can lower pain and reduce frequency, and antihistamines that can help one sleep better and can also make things easier. Medications to help one get more sleep may also be prescribed.
  • There are a few therapy options that many people and doctors try to make life more manageable. This can include filling the bladder with fluids or trying to coat it with medication. It can include physical therapy, biofeedback, and even surgery to try and fix the problem. In very sever cases the bladder may be removed to try and make the life of the individual better.
  • Dietary changes are usually made by IC patients. Sometimes this is at the request of their doctor and other times it is out of desperation to make things better. Those with IC can't have preservatives and have to illuminate many packaged foods, canned foods, and have to even be careful with foods cooked in restaurants because of this issue. Some are very sensitive while others are not as sensitive. Each patient has different reactions to different foods, but many are sensitive to alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tea, caffeine, aged cheeses, artificial sweeteners, citrus fruits (but especially the juice), cranberry juice, fava and lima beans, cured meats, smoked meats, processed meats, canned meats, many different fruits with most being on the list, onions, most nuts, MSG, sour cream, yogurt, soy, tofu, and tomatoes. Some of these thing bother people really bad and others don't effect all people.
  • There are some alternative medicines that have also been used. Many say that meditation techniques can help one get through the days. Other options also include acupuncture. Aloe vera is a supplement that has had some success for some people, but it is pretty expensive to buy the high quality, highly concentrated varieties needed. In more recent times some patients have had success with medical marijuana, but that isn't an option for everyone and it is expensive even in areas where it is legal.

The Biggest Problem.
When you have high blood pressure you can take a pill that makes it all better. You take that pill every day, but it works and does its job every day. With interstitial cystitis you are likely to do several different treatments and therapies with mixed results.

  • Some people don't have any luck with certain types of therapies while others have really good luck with them. For example, one patient may take Elmiron and feel a lot better, at least most of the time. Another may use the product for months without any changes to how they feel.
  • It is a lot of trial and error. You try different medications, different therapies, and even different foods to find out what you can eat without causing flairs and what you can't eat.
  • Most never live a normal life and never go without dealing with symptoms. While many things may slow down the symptoms, get rid of some of the pain, or reduce the number of flairs they aren't likely to take all of them away.

Financial Concerns.
There are a number of financial concerns for those that deal with IC. Everything about it is expensive and can leave them working hard to pay off medical debts, even when working is often hard on a number of levels.

  • The medications for IC are expensive. Often they are several dollars per pill and usually the patient takes several pills per day. This can lead to a lot of expense for the month. That is certainly bad enough, but it doesn't end there.
  • You have to see the doctor more often. At first this feels horrible because it is a ton as you try and get a diagnosis seeing doctor after doctor and paying for test after test. After a diagnosis is done you have to see the doctor regularly to come up with the best possible treatment and management plan available for you.
  • Diet changes are often expensive and when you are eliminating processed foods and preservatives you are looking at paying for fresh foods. This is an expensive change that can make shopping a lot harder.
  • Any supplements that can help are also pricey. Aloe vera is one that many IC patients are having success with. However, they need a concentrated form that is also pretty expensive. In addition to the supplement costing a lot a large number of pills are needed in order to be effective.

The cost can be overwhelming. Add to that the fact that the symptoms that one deals with each day makes it hard to work a normal job and you have a person struggling to survive in a world that just cost way too much.

Researching for a cure.
Research is being done to find out why IC occurs. There are a number of ideas, but narrowing it down will help to find a cure. At the same time research is being done for a cure and for better treatment options. It would be wonderful to find affordable solutions that really worked.

IC is horrible. There is good news and bad. The good is that some things can be done to help. The bad is that right now there is no cure and no regular treatment that will eliminate all of the symptoms. However, there are now support groups, more and more people are learning about it, more money is being put into research, and there is more hope than ever before.