Medication for Interstitial Cystitis

Oral Medication Can Help Relieve the Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)

Pressure, pain, urinary frequency or urgency—these are all symptoms of interstitial cystitis or IC. While this chronic condition cannot be cured, Dr. J. Kyle Mathews will work with you to come up with a plan to help relieve your symptoms and help you feel better. Oral medication may be part of your treatment plan. There are many different types of medications for interstitial cystitis, which may be used alone or in combination with other medication.

Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium (Elmiron) Is Specifically FDA-Approved for Treating IC

This is the only oral medication for interstitial cystitis that is approved by the FDA to specifically treat IC. According to the Interstitial Cystitis Association: “In double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials, 38 percent of patients treated with Elmiron for three months reported improvement of their IC symptoms. In open-label trials, 61 percent of patients reported improvement.”*

It isn’t clear exactly how Elmiron works, but the thinking is that it may help to restore the inner surface of the bladder (the glycosaminoglycans, or GAG layer). This surface is important because it protects the bladder wall from bacteria or other irritating substances found in urine. If this surface is too thin or is damaged, Elmiron may act as a synthetic inner layer, improving IC symptoms.

Patients may have to take Elmiron for up to six months before they see improvement, but some may experience relief as early as three to four weeks. Most patients notice a decrease in pain before they notice a decrease in urinary frequency (which may take six to nine months).

Antidepressants Can Treat the Pain, as Well as the Urgency and Frequency of IC

Antidepressants aren’t just for depression—they’re also used to treat chronic pain conditions, and they are often used as a medication for interstitial cystitis as well. There are different types of antidepressants, but studies have shown that one group is particularly effective in the treatment of IC– tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Studies have shown that these drugs effectively reduce urinary frequency and block pain.

Some of the most commonly used TCAs

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Doxepin (Sinequan)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)

Hydroxyzone, an Antihistamine, May Be Especially Helpful for Patients Who Have a History of Allergies

The antihistamine hydroxyzone is also a mild, anti-anxiety drug. There are two oral forms of this medication for interstitial cystitis treatment: hydroxyzine pamoate (Vistaril) and hydroxyzine hydrochloride (Atarax).This drug is thought to be especially helpful for patients who have allergies, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or migraines.

Hydroxyzone helps with the following symptoms of IC.

  • Daytime frequency of urination
  • Night time voiding (nocturia)
  • Burning
  • Pressure
  • Pain during or after intercourse

There are other types of medication that may be used in combination with the medications for interstitial cystitis listed above. Dr. Mathews tailors medication and treatment plans to each of his patients, finding what works best for each individual. If you would like to learn more about interstitial cystitis treatment plans, contact Dr. Mathews at Plano Urogynecology Associates.
*Interstitial Cystitis Association: