IC/PBS is an unknown disorder to many doctors and to most patients in pain. IC/PBS has been around for years, but has gone seriously undiagnosed and treated until the past few years. In this article I will discuss both traditional and holistic treatments for this disease. You need to research this subject on a regular basis for new information. There is much ongoing research that will shed more light on the cause of IC/PBS, new treatments, and management options.
Here are some suggestions to help you manage IC/PBS:
Diet Therapy: If drinking tea or coffee brings on IC symptoms, avoid that food or drink. Triggers may include ice tea, hot tea, hot chocolate, some herb teas, coffee, orange juice, lemonade, alcohol, and tomato juice. Realize if you cheat, you are pouring acid over a raw, ulcerated area. Each time you cheat, you set your healing back.
Bladder Training: Try to increase the time between urination. This is best accomplished once the pain and symptoms have lessened.
Control Your Stress: I have learned that my symptoms are often brought on by stress. When you are feeling stressed, your body becomes more acidic, your digestion does not work as effectively, and you are more likely to eat trigger foods or drinks. I drank ice tea when we were moving. I was so exhausted, I thought I could get away with it. I ended up in severe pain that lasted for a month. Try meditation, massage, prayer, writing, or relaxing with soft music to bring down your stress level. The point is find something that works to lessen your stress.
Self-Help Groups: It helps to get input from women going through the same symptoms as you are. Their input in what brings on or relieves their IC/PBS may help you find ways to manage yours. Talking to other patients relieves stress and gives you a place to vent your frustration. This is very helpful to regain health and find answers.
Energy Medicine: This includes acupuncture, acupressure, Ayurveda, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Biofeedback, and massage. These methods have been shown to help patients with IC/PBS. These methods work to rebalance the energy fields within the body. Those who perform energy healing feel that disturbances in the body’s energy fields disrupt body functions creating IC/PBS, Fibromyalgia, and other auto immune diseases. Many women report relief or remission after this kind of therapy. The therapy is not a one shot deal and is performed over weeks or months. Most insurances don’t cover the treatments so that is a huge problem.
Chinese Medicine and herbs: There are herbs in Chinese medicine that relieve inflammation in the body. In my experience, they have few side effects and do not destroy the liver or kidneys in the process. They do seem to help significantly. When I finally learned that my problems were caused not from infection but inflammation and ulceration, I realized why I had not gotten relief. I had taken herbs like goldenseal, oregano, and garlic that treat infection. Since IC/PBS is not caused from an infection, they did not work. After I began a regimen of herbs that are used for ulcers and ulcerated conditions, I found relief quickly.
Herbs help the body in different ways: Some herbs work to clean out the body and blood system; some build up the body and support healing; others treat infection such as garlic and goldenseal; and many herbs are soothing, helping to heal irritated membranes and organs. An example is Aloe Vera which sprayed on a sunburn or raw area is very soothing and will relieve the pain. Soothing herbs and herbs which reduce inflammation are what is needed to stop IC/PBs pain. They also work on other ulcerated conditions in the stomach and other areas.
A soothing, healing herbal formulation will contain the following herbs: Slippery Elm, Marshmallow, ginger, dong Quai Root, wild yam root, and lobelia. My severe pain went from 10 to 3 within two days. I have not had the pain since I began taking these herbs. I now realize that I cannot go off my stringent diet eliminating ice tea and all acid drinks. I never drank them often but I did not realize how doing that even as a treat set my health back. The herbs cost me under $20 a month, are gentle, gentle enough to give a child, will not harm my kidneys or liver, and work….effectively work. I am in no pain period at this point. I believe the healthiest thing to do first is diet and life style changes. Then try herbs that are not toxic to the body. If all that fails, then try the drugs and pain relievers offered by standard medicine.
Other Life Style suggestions:
Try soaking in a tub of hot water to relieve symptoms.
Try a cold pack on the pelvic area.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing that breathes.
Begin a walking program or take a class in yoga.
Try Different Sexual Positions: If you experience pain during sex, try other positions to see if that makes a difference and always use unscented lubrication. Realizing that the pain came not from an infection but irritated bladder wall really helped.
Pain Killers: These drugs stop the pain but are hard on the stomach, kidneys and liver. They often have severe side effects including feeling drugged and do not address the cause of IC/PBS.
Oral Therapy: The only FDA approved therapy for IC is pentosan polysulfate sodium(Elmiron).
Intravesical Therapy: A single agent such as DMSO or a combination of medicines is injected into the bladder. When researching this article, I read many comments from women who have undergone these therapies. Intravesical Therapy helped some of the women but most reported it did not solve the problem and was very painful.
Hydrodistention: The patient is sedated, the urologist performs a cystoscopic exam with a cystoscope, and uses sterile water to enlarge the bladder. The idea is to stretch the bladder so that it does not need to be emptied so often.
Please explore all these options before making a decision. Education is the key to getting well.