BLADDER RETRAINING: This consist of very gradually training the bladder to stretch more, thus enabling a woman to urinate less frequently. Dr. Perez-Marrero describes it as "you get to know your bladder, and it gets to know you." Dr. Whitmore has found that after the pain of IC is controlled, bladder training has been very useful in reducing urinary frequency.
OZONE TREATMENTS: Dr. Frank Shallenberger, in Minden Nevada, 702-782-4164, has had excellent results using ozone inserted into the bladder through a catheter. This treatment is still experimental. Anti-oxidant supplements must always be taken with any ozone treatments. Contact Maggie Burston of PICI for more information.
CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS: Studies have shown abnormalities of the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae in women with IC. Dr. Gillespie now works with a chiropractor who corrects the alignment of these vertebrae. This can result in improvement of pain and frequency of urination.
HARMFUL TREATMENTS: Certain treatments appear to do more harm than good. This includes the instillation of silver nitrate to burn out ulcers from bladder tissue. Surgical remedies, such as cutting off the top of the bladder, known as "bladder augmentation" are not useful. Urethral dilations, where the urethra is stretched open with a series of thin metal rods, worsen IC. No studies have demonstrated the benefit of any of these treatments.
Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture and herbs works well for some women. Good results for all these methods usually depend on the supervision of an experienced practitioner who can individualize your treatment program.
According to Dr. Matthew Lee, who has done extensive research on acupuncture, "If you are going to get results from acupuncture, 50 percent of patients will do so within three sessions, and 90 to 95 percent will do so within six sessions (ICA update, summer 1992)."
Treatment of chronic yeast infection, if present, can result in marked improvement in both types of chronic cystitis. Emotional stresses, food allergies and environmental factors will also have to be examined closely.
It is important to remember that while there is still a lot we don't know about IC, much can be done to bring the problem under control and allow a person to lead a normal life.
SPONTANEOUS REMISSION: Dr. Perez-Marrero has reported that some women get diagnosed with IC, and then within two to five years get completely better, "without the help of anyone except themselves." In addition, he says, "I think that you can go into remission for a long time; whether you get rid of it forever or not, I don't know, because we haven't followed enough patients long enough to find out."
Why some people get better on their own is unknown, but a major life change or change in attitude may be a key factor.
Highly recommended is OVERCOMING BLADDER DISORDERS, by Rebecca Chalker and Dr. Kristene Whitmore (Harper and Rowe, 1991). This is an excellent well written overview by a sympathetic doctor. It provides some discussion of natural treatments. Dr. Whitmore has also made a video entitled, "MANAGING IC" available from ICA Canada (see address below).
Dr. Gillespie's clear and practical book called, YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE WITH CYSTITIS, published in 1986 by Macmillan Canada, and now available in Avon paperback is also highly recommended. THE INTERSTITIAL CYSTITIS FOUNDATION, which supports research in the field, has a quarterly newsletter, and publishes a cookbook of bladder-proof recipes. There address is:
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