1. Home
  2. Health Information
  3. Urologic Diseases
  4. Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)

Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)

View or Print All Sections

Definition & Facts

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic, or long-lasting, condition that causes painful urinary symptoms. Researchers don’t know the exact cause of IC.

Image of the Urinary Tract

Symptoms & Causes

People with interstitial cystitis (IC) have discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or pain in the bladder, lower abdomen, and pelvic area. Symptoms vary from person to person, may come and go, and can change in each person as time goes on.


A careful review of symptoms and a physical exam in a doctor’s office are generally the most important parts of diagnosing interstitial cystitis (IC). A health care professional will ask if you have a history of health problems that are related to IC.


You and your doctor may be able to treat your interstitial cystitis (IC) with lifestyle changes, bladder training, physical therapy, medicines, bladder hydrodistention, bladder instillation, surgery, or a combination of these treatments.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

No research consistently links certain foods or drinks to interstitial cystitis (IC), although many people find that certain foods and drinks can make their IC symptoms worse, such as alcohol, caffeine, and high-acid foods.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Diagnostic Tests

The Urinary Tract & How it Works

The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing urine, which is composed of wastes and extra fluid. In order for normal urination to occur, all body parts in the urinary tract need to work together in the correct order.

Last Reviewed July 2017

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.