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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis)

Mate tōngamimi kūiti

Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis) is inflammation of the bladder causing bladder pain and sometimes pelvic pain when your bladder is full. It's a long-term condition.

With painful bladder syndrome, there is no obvious infection in your bladder and antibiotics do not help.

The exact causes of painful bladder syndrome aren't known but many factors may contribute. These include damage to your bladder lining and problems with your pelvic floor muscles. Your immune system attacking your bladder is another possible cause.

Symptoms of painful bladder syndrome

Symptoms can include:

Diagnosing painful bladder syndrome

There is no single test to diagnose painful bladder syndrome. Your general practice team will examine you and ask you questions about your general health. They may also arrange a urine test to look for signs of infection and any abnormal cells.

You may have an ultrasound or CT scan.

You may also need a urodynamic test, which involves filling and emptying your bladder with water while taking pressure measurements.

You may need to be referred for a cystoscopy during which a small camera is passed into the bladder.

Treating painful bladder syndrome

The treatment for painful bladder syndrome is aimed at reducing or getting rid of your symptoms. You may need several treatments or combinations of treatments to relieve your symptoms. These can include physiotherapy, medication and surgery. They can also include filling your bladder with salt water (saline).

Self-care for painful bladder syndrome

Things that may help improve your symptoms include:

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2023.


Page reference: 223752

Review key: HIURS-53047