I have been mainly clear of bladder symptoms for over 3 years now. One of the few things that can still flare up interstitial cystitis symptoms for me are B vitamin complex supplements. These tend to cause a burning sensation and a slight loss of bladder muscle tone. There is a reason why B vitamin supplements can be a problem for IC sufferers, which I’d like to share with you today.
Amino acids are derived from protein and they are the main building blocks in the body. For example, they are used to make hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes. Some of them are essential, meaning they need to be taken in from the diet, whilst the others can be manufactured in the body.
As you hopefully can see from the above, amino acids are pretty important. But some of them can become problematic for people with bladder pain. These are tyrosine, tryptophan, tyramine and phenylalanine (called the ‘arylalkylamines’).
When I first had interstitial cystitis (IC), I started looking at diet and lifestyle changes that might help me get better. Exercise is generally considered to be health promoting, so I decided to include it in my routine. I knew quite a few people who were jogging regularly and decided to give it a go myself, since it required no special equipment or gym membership.
However, each time I did go for a run I would get a massive flare of my IC symptoms, as well as the urge to run to the toilet.
I eventually abandoned jogging (mainly because I was chronically fatigued and couldn’t do much at all). I only recently came across an explanation as to why jogging may not be so great for the bladder and I thought I’d share it with you!
If you have been following this blog for a while you’ll hopefully know about the role of the microbiome in health, including bladder health. I’ve posted about this topic several times. Today I’d like to look more specifically at the bladder microbiota and interstitial cystitis (IC).
I’ve recently come across an info-graphic on Twitter, claiming that interstitial cystitis (IC) is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the bladder lining, causing the painful symptoms of IC. This reminded me that it’s about time that I explore this question further: Is interstitial cystitis an autoimmune condition or not?
The short answer is: maybe sometimes.
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a painful bladder condition that, in the research, is usually described as being of ‘unknown etiology’  i.e. the true cause is unknown.
Several researchers have suggested that IC should be called ‘Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS)’ or ‘Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS)’ .
When we talk about a syndrome (such as IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome), we normally talk about an array of similar symptoms for which the causes are not known or for which several causes could exist.
If you’ve been following my blog, you will have seen several articles about different root causes of IC. This begs the question: is IC really just one disease? Or could it be several conditions, resulting in similar symptoms in the bladder?
There are different forms of Inflammation, ranging from acute to chronic. Inflammation plays an important part in the immune response and is designed to help us survive – it is the immune system’s response to infections and injury.
The inflammatory response has helped us to survive in the evolutionary environment. Throughout evolution, the inflammatory response has stayed the same – our environment however, has changed drastically in the past couple of centuries (not a long time in evolutionary terms!).
The changes in our environment are thought to parallel the rise in chronic disease. Could inflammation be one of the reasons?
Interstitial cystitis is often associated with a range of other degenerative diseases such as IBS, IBD, Fibromyalgia, Sjoegen’s, Lupus and also allergies.
‘Classic’ interstitial cystitis has some common features with allergies such as increased mast cells, histamine and inflammation.
Is something else causing IC, allergies and associated diseases or could allergies be a root cause? What if some cases of IC are simply a symptom of food intolerance? I call this the allergic bladder.
When speaking about urinary tract infections, we usually speak about bacterial infections. Fungi (a.k.a yeasts or mold) are different organisms from bacteria and they can cause infections such as thrush in some parts of the body. Fungal infections in the vagina for example are a well-known condition. But can there also be fungal infections in the urinary tract?
Last week I had a look at how hormones affect the urinary tract. Changes in the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone and even the ‘male’ hormone testosterone appear to affect urinary tract symptoms.
Oral contraception affects hormone levels in the body and may therefore also affect urinary tract symptoms.
Other contraception may not affect hormones but may have an impact on the urinary tract in other ways.
Today I would like to take a look at what we know about different forms of contraception and bladder health.