Painful Bladder Syndrome or Interstitial cystitis, is a chronic inflammatory condition of the submucosal and muscular layers of the bladder. The cause of IC/BPS is currently unknown and the condition is regarded as a diagnosis of exclusion. It is may be associated with urinary urgency, urinary frequency, waking at night to urinate (nocturia), and sterile urine cultures. Those with interstitial cystitis may have symptoms that overlap with other urinary bladder disorders such as: urinary tract infection (UTI), overactive bladder, urethritis, urethral syndrome, and prostatitis. Painful Bladder Syndrome can result in a quality of life comparable to that of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic cancer pain, or a patient on kidney dialysis.
The symptoms of Painful Bladder Syndrome are often misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection. However, it has not been shown to be caused by a bacterial infection and antibiotics are an ineffective treatment. The symptoms of Painful Bladder Syndrome may also initially be attributed to prostatitis and epididymitis (in men) and endometriosis and uterine fibroids (in women).
The most common symptoms are suprapubic pain, urinary frequency, painful sexual intercourse, and waking up from sleep to urinate.
In general, symptoms may include painful urination described as a burning sensation in the urethra during urination, pelvic pain that is worsened with the consumption of certain foods or drinks, urinary urgency, and pressure in the bladder or pelvis. Other frequently described symptoms are urinary hesitancy (needing to wait for the urinary stream to begin, often caused by pelvic floor dysfunction and tension), and discomfort and difficulty driving, working, or traveling. Pelvic pain experienced by those with IC typically worsens with filling of the urinary bladder and may improve with urination.