Interstitial cystitis affects 500,000 people in the UK, who are told that there is no cure for it and that they must live with it.
Patients have often been on an exhausting route visiting GPs, urologists and gynaecologists. Interstitial cystitis is a very uncomfortable and stressful disorder, which is characterized by chronic urinary urgency (feeling the need to urinate immediately) and frequency (frequent urination) with or without pelvic pain. Symptoms of interstitial cystitis may vary among individuals and may even vary with time in the same individual. Many people have to live life around their bladder because of the unpleasant symptoms. The term "cystitis" refers to any inflammation of the bladder. In contrast to bacterial cystitis, which results from an infection in the bladder, no infectious organism has been identified in people with interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis is diagnosed when the symptoms occur without evidence for another cause of the symptoms.
Certain chronic illnesses have been described as occurring more frequently in people with interstitial cystitis than in the general population:
Systemic lupus erythematosus (Lupus or SLE)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Vulvodynia (chronic discomfort in the vulvar area)
Interstitial cystitis has been classified into two forms, ulcerative and non-ulcerative, depending on the presence or absence of ulcerations in the bladder lining. Star-shaped ulcerations in the bladder wall are known as Hunner's ulcers. The ulcerative (classic type) of interstitial cystitis is found in less than 10% of cases. Scarring and stiffening of the bladder wall may occur as a result of the long term inflammation, leading to a decrease in bladder capacity. Areas of pinpoint bleeding may be seen on the bladder wall.