Interstitial cystitis (in-ter-stish-uhl sĭ-stī’tĭs), or as we call it, IC, is a bladder condition that usually consists of multiple symptoms. Most patients with interstitial cystitis have recurring pelvic pain, pressure, or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region, and urinary frequency (needing to go often) and urgency (feeling a strong need to go). Many of the time, the patients believe they have recurrent bladder infections but the cultures do not grow bacteria.
IC may also be referred to as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS), and chronic pelvic pain. Read more about these different names for IC.
Types of IC
Researchers continue to study IC and investigate why IC symptoms can be different in different patients. Many believe that there may be Additional subtypes, called phenotypes, of IC. This also helps to explain why there is such disparity in how IC patients respond to treatments.
Currently there are two recognized subtypes of IC: non-ulcerative and ulcerative.
- Non-ulcerative: 90% of IC patients have the non-ulcerative form of IC. Non-ulcerative IC presents with pinpoint hemorrhages, also known as glomerulations, in the bladder wall. However, these are not specific for IC and any inflammation of the bladder can give that appearance.
- Ulcerative: 5 to 10% of IC patients have the ulcerative form of IC. These patients usually have Hunner’s ulcers or patches, which are red, bleeding areas on the bladder wall.
End Stage (Severe) IC
About 5% of IC patients have persistent symptoms for more than 2 years and 5% of patients have end stage disease defined as very hard bladders with low capacity and terrible pain. Many of these patients also have Hunner’s ulcers.
Learn more about how to treat severe interstitial cystitis. Talk to one of our Bladder Specialists today!