NORMAN — Q: I have been having problems with my bladder and have been told I have interstitial cystitis and may eventually need surgery but that I may be able to prolong having surgery if I make some changes in my diet. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Although this is not a subject that dietitians traditionally see patients for, it likely should be given the positive gains that can come from making diet adjustments. Interstitial cystitis (IC) symptoms include recurring pelvic pain, pressure or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region often associated with urinary frequency and urgency.
Essentially, it is likened to having a constant bladder infection with sterile urine (no bacteria that can be treated).
Not all patients suffer from the same kind of pain and it can fluctuate with hormonal changes throughout the month. It can lead to anxiety of social situations for fear of not being able to make it to the restroom, sexual dysfunction from pelvic pain and disruption of sleep patterns with frequent nighttime urination.
Treatments include medication (which is limited), stress management, bladder training and a structured sleep program, as well as diet changes.
A food log and symptom log are suggested to determine which foods may be specific triggers for you. Initially, practitioners recommend to eliminate as many known triggers as possible for two to three weeks, then add items back a little at a time (one new food every three days) while monitoring symptoms with the same symptom log.
Julie Beyer, MA, RDN, has studied “trigger foods” for patients with IC and has devised a fairly extensive list of foods, including:
· Bladder-friendly — Foods that are least likely to cause a flare
· Try it — Foods known to cause problems with some patients but not a majority
· Caution — Foods that are best avoided entirely or tried in small portions.