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New Discovery: Colon Linked to Interstitial Cystitis Pain

For people with interstitial cystitis, eating spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and caffeine, or drinking alcohol can lead to significant bladder pain.  Approximately 700,000 Americans, mostly females, have interstitial cystitis.  The condition causes severe bladder pain and pressure with the persistent urge to urinate during the day or night.  People with interstitial cystitis may void as many as 60 times in a 24 hour period.  The symptoms of interstitial cystitis may seem very similar to a bladder infection; however, interstitial cystitis is not caused by bacteria, while  a bladder infection is.
In the past, researchers believed that certain foods irritated the bladder and contributed to symptoms.  Scientists at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine recently learned that in fact, when certain foods irritate the colon, the colon sends pain  signals to the same area of the spinal cord that the bladder sends pain signals to.  This increases the total amount of pain signals and increases the symptoms of interstitial cystitis.  Armed with a better understanding of how the nerve signals converge, researchers are one step closer to creating an effective treatment for interstitial cystitis.

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