Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Some people with interstitial cystitis find relief with self-care methods, such as:
Dietary changes. Although there's no scientific evidence that points to diet as the cause of interstitial cystitis, many people with the condition find that eliminating or reducing their intake of potential bladder irritants may help to relieve their discomfort.
Some of the most irritating foods can be summarized as the "four Cs." The four Cs include carbonated beverages, caffeine in all forms (including chocolate), citrus products and food containing high concentrations of vitamin C.
If you find that your bladder is irritated by these things, you may also wish to avoid related foods, such as tomatoes, pickled foods, alcohol and spices. Artificial sweeteners may aggravate symptoms in some people, as well. If you think certain foods make you feel worse, try eliminating them from your diet. Reintroduce them one at a time to determine which, if any, affect your signs and symptoms.
- Bladder training. These techniques may help reduce urinary frequency. The training involves timed urination — going to the toilet according to the clock rather than waiting for the need to go. You start by urinating at set intervals, such as every half-hour — whether you have to go or not. Then you gradually wait longer between bathroom visits. Bladder training may involve learning to control the urge to urinate by using relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly and deeply or distracting yourself with another activity.
These other self-care approaches may help you as well:
- Wear loose clothing. Avoid belts or clothes that put pressure on your abdomen.
- Reduce stress. Try methods such as visualization and biofeedback, and low-impact exercise.
- Try pelvic floor exercises. Gently stretching and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, possibly with help from a physical therapist, may reduce muscle spasms. Sometimes this technique is combined with biofeedback.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking may worsen any painful condition, and smoking contributes to bladder cancer.
- Exercise. Easy stretching exercises may help reduce your interstitial cystitis symptoms.
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