Interstitial Cystitis Overview
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Inflammation is a protective reaction of the body tissue to irritation, injury, or infection. Inflammation of the bladder is called cystitis. When the inflammation is caused by bacterial infection, it is referred to as bacterial cystitis or just cystitis. Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the bladder when no infection is found. (Other causes of noninfectious inflammation of the bladder are also possible.)
Inflammation of the bladder causes urinary frequency (frequent need to urinate), urgency (urgent need to urinate), pelvic pain, painful urination, incontinence, and nocturia (frequent need to urinate at night).
Long-term inflammation of the bladder in people with IC can lead to scarring and stiffening of the bladder wall, which causes a decrease in the bladder capacity. Pinpoint areas of bleeding, called glomerulations, may occur in the lining of the bladder wall. IC is believed to be a spectrum of disease initially presenting with mild symptoms and progressing to severe urgency and pelvic pain.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), IC affects about 700,000 people in the United States, and 90% of IC patients are women. It is believed that IC is a much more prevalent disease and that many patients have early forms of IC with a delayed diagnosis. The average age of onset of IC is 40 years.
George Lazarou, MD, FACOG
Shehnaz Shaikh, MD
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