Interstitial Cystitis (IC)/Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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Are there home remedies for interstitial cystitis?

There are a number of home remedies and self-care techniques that many people have found to be of benefit in controlling the symptoms of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. These include limiting the consumption of certain foods, smoking cessation, exercise, and bladder training. These methods are described in more detail in the section below.

Are lifestyle modifications of value in the management of interstitial cystitis?

Diet

There is no scientific evidence linking diet to IC/PBS, but doctors and patients believe that certain foods, including alcohol, spices, chocolate, and caffeinated and citrus beverages, may contribute to bladder irritation and inflammation. Foods containing acid, for example, carbonated beverages, tomatoes, vitamin C, citrus fruits and beverages, vinegar, cranberries, strawberries, grapes, guava, mango, and pineapple also are believed to aggravate IC/PBS. Other foods that may increase symptoms because they contain the natural chemical tyramine include wine, beer, cheese, nuts, yogurt, bananas, soy sauce, chicken livers, raisins, sour cream, avocados, canned figs, corned beef, fava beans, brewers' yeast, and chocolate.

Some patients with IC/PBS also have noticed a worsening of symptoms after eating or drinking products containing artificial sweeteners. Patients may try eliminating such products from their diet and, if there is a reduction of symptoms, they can reintroduce them one at a time to determine which product seems to be aggravating their symptoms.

Smoking

Many IC/PBS patients feel that smoking worsens their symptoms. (Because smoking is the major known cause of bladder cancer, one of the best things a smoker can do for the bladder is to quit smoking.)

Exercise

Many IC/PBS patients feel that regular exercise helps relieve symptoms and, in some cases, hastens remission.

Bladder training

People who have found some relief from pain may then be able to reduce frequency using bladder training techniques. Methods vary but basically the patient decides to urinate at designated times and uses relaxation techniques and distractions to help keep to the schedule. Gradually, the patient lengthens the time between urinations. A diary usually is helpful in keeping track of progress.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/8/2016

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