Bladder pressure usually signals the brain about the need to urinate. However, a continuous feeling of pressure in the bladder is not normal. It could be caused by a Urinary Tract Infection or a condition known as Interstitial Cystitis. So when it comes to bladder pressure and fullness, what’s normal?
In this article, we explore the causes and symptoms of persistent bladder pressure. We also outline the differences between IC and UTIs as well as treatment options and alternative therapies for relief from interstitial cystitis.
What Causes Continuous Bladder Pressure?
Persistent bladder pressure feels like a dull and painful ache in the pelvic area. The pain is usually much worse than the lower belly cramps experienced during a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Genetics and allergies are also known to contribute to continuous bladder pressure. And in some cases, the immune system reacting to other conditions can cause the feeling of persistent bladder fullness.
However, in the many cases, the persistent feeling of bladder pressure and fullness can be attributed to interstitial cystitis.
Bladder Pressure Symptoms (From IC)
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition that causes recurring pelvic pain and bladder discomfort. It is most prevalent in women aged 30 or older and as of 2021, there is no cure for IC.
IC patients also suffer from a chronically frequent urge to pee, for some, up to 60 times a day.
A burning sensation is usually experienced while urinating, and IC can also lead to discomfort during sexual intercourse.
What’s the Difference between Interstitial Cystitis & a Urinary Tract Infection?
While a urinary tract infection is usually caused by harmful bacteria entering the urethra and infecting part of the urinary tract, the cause of IC remains unknown.
Although unproven, researchers believe that IC, which is also known as bladder pain syndrome, could result from a mix-up of nerve signals from the bladder to the brain. This is due to the bladder nerves becoming highly sensitive and alerting the brain of bladder pressure when it is not full or truly needing to urinate.
Another difference between IC and UTIs is vaginal discharge. During a UTI, vaginal discharge can become foul-smelling and change to a grey or cloudy color. With IC, there is no change to vaginal discharge.
In addition, UTIs can often be accompanied by a mild fever whereas IC symptoms rarely include a fever.
Anyone experiencing prolonged bladder pressure should make an appointment to see their doctor in order to avoid more serious complications.
After ruling out a UTI with a pelvic exam and a urine sample, a doctor will normally request certain information from patients to diagnose IC. Information such as how many liquids patients usually drink in a day, as well as the number of trips to the bathroom, and whether any pain is experienced during urination. After this data has been analyzed, doctors may request a cystoscopy examination for further investigation.
A urodynamic study may also be requested by the doctor to measure the pressure on the bladder as it fills and empties, and a potassium sensitivity test is another procedure carried out to diagnose IC.
Treatment for Bladder Pressure
Left untreated, IC can lead to more serious complications. However, because there is no known cure for IC, treatment options can vary from person to person, according to what provides them with relief.
Physical therapy for the pelvic area is widely known to relieve tension and pain associated with IC.
Over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatories also relieve IC pain. In some cases, doctors prescribe an antihistamine to alleviate the urgency to urinate, or an antidepressant to relax the bladder muscles.
Sometimes doctors recommend more advanced treatments such as nerve stimulation with a TENS machine to help with pain and urination urgency.
Bladder distention, where the bladder is filled with water to stretch it, can also help to reduce symptoms and instilled medications, which are inserted into the bladder via the urethra are also helpful for some patients.
Natural Remedies for Relieving Bladder Pressure Caused by IC
An interstitial cystitis-friendly diet, where trigger foods are pinpointed and eliminated, is highly recommended to minimize IC flare-ups. For example, eliminating the “four Cs” – caffeine, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, and vitamin C can significantly help reduce symptoms.
Evidence from recent studies also shows that aloe vera supplements, such as the Freeze Dried Aloe Vera For Interstitial Cystitis from Intimate Rose are incredibly effective in treating IC symptoms.
Aloe vera’s natural anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-fungal properties act to soothe the pain and the burning sensation. Aloe can also help to regenerate the protective layer of the bladder more commonly known as the GAG layer, which can often be damaged in IC patients.
Regular yoga and meditation can help to relieve stress, which is known to cause IC flares-ups in some people. In addition, yoga also helps to relax the pelvic floor muscles.
Heat pads or hot water bottles also help to ease the dull pelvic ache associated with bladder pressure.
While there is no current cure for persistent bladder pressure, bladder pain syndrome, or interstitial cystitis, there are some treatments that help to reduce the pain and discomfort.
It is imperative, however, to speak with your doctor about persistent bladder pressure, as left untreated it can lead to more serious complications.
New Health Guide - Pressure on Bladder - newhealthguide.org/Pressure-On-Bladder.html
Urology Care Foundation - What is interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome?
Mayo Clinic – Urinary Tract Infection - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447
National Center For Biotechnology Information – An Update on Treatment Options for Interstitial Cystitis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7258371/
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases - Eating, diet, & nutrition for interstitial cystitis -
Mayo Clinic - Interstitial cystitis: Overview - mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/interstitial-cystitis/home/ovc-20251830