Bladder wall thickening is a condition that comes about due to irritation and inflammation of the Bladder Interstitial Cystitis. This condition brings about severe pain, pressure and makes the patient urinate frequently. The chronic irritation causes scarring of the bladder wall, and this is why it thickens; it becomes stiff and cannot hold even the smallest amount of urine and hence the frequent urination.5 to 10 percent of the people who have this condition will develop bladder ulcers. Bladder wall thickening is more common in women than in men and children.
- Frequent Urination – Bladder wall thickening causes the bladder to lose its elasticity and become stiff. This means that it cannot hold a lot of urine. People with bladder wall thickening can urinate up to 60 times in a day, during the day and at night.
- Pain and pressure – There is a lot of pain and pressure around the pelvic area, which can range from mild to severe. The pain will abate once the patient urinates. Men will also feel pain in the scrotum and penis.
- Sexual dysfunction – bladder wall thickening will cause pain during sexual intercourse, bringing about sexual dysfunction.
Causes of bladder wall thickening
Bladder wall thickening is caused by the inflammation and irritation of the bladder by interstitial cystitis. The resultant scarring is what makes the bladder wall to grow thick. Interstitial cystitis is not a disease, but a condition that simply comes about. A theory has been put across that the condition produces a protein named anti-proliferative factor, which makes the bladder sensitive to urine. Other researchers say that it may be due to several factors acting at the same time. Here are some of the risk factors put across:
- Surgery and Trauma – it has been suggested that surgery and some types of trauma can lead to bladder wall thickening due to scarring.
- Bladder Distension – This is the inability to urinate for long periods of time, thereby irritating the bladder and causing the wall to thicken.
- Nerve damage and inflammation – the inflammation of the spine and nerves in the pelvic area has also been thought to bring about the condition.
- Inflammatory diseases – other inflammatory diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia are other causes.
- Early sexual experience – girls who have sexual intercourse, or are abused as young children, may develop this condition; this is still being debated.
Treatment of Bladder Wall Thickening
People with bladder wall thickening should first try some home remedies before they resort to taking medication. Here are some of remedies that will help:
- Quitting smoking – smoking is known to irritate the bladder; quitting will help alleviate the condition. The smoking can also lead to bladder cancer.
- Training the bladder – in order to reduce the frequency of urinating, patients should train themselves to go to urinate following a schedule.
- Reduce stress – Meditation, Yoga, Exercise will reduce stress and help reduce the effects of bladder wall thickening.
- Support groups – emotional support is very important when suffering from bladder wall thickening; many people join support groups to share experiences about this condition, which can be very embarrassing, with people urinating on themselves even in public.
Diet can also help when suffering from this condition. There are foods that one should avoid since they are diuretics which encourage urination. Here are some foods to avoid:
- Carbonated drinks
- Artificial sweeteners
- Citrus fruits
One should also keep a diet diary which shows which foods increase the frequency of urination.
Other remedies for bladder wall thickening
Basically there is no cure for this condition so the best way is just to find ways to relieve the symptoms.
- Medication – Pentosan Polysulphate helps relieve symptoms by protecting the bladder wall from irritation; it can take months for symptoms to abate and it does not work for everybody. Amitriptyline is an antidepressant that reduces bladder spasms and pain.
- Physical therapy – this helps in reducing pelvic muscle tenderness
- Bladder distension – filling the bladder with gas or fluid to expand the stiff bladder walls.
- Bladder instillation – also known as ladder wash, where Dimethyl Sulfoxide is injected into the bladder using a catheter, for 6 to 8 weeks. It relives pain and reduces inflammation for up to a month.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – low voltage is applied to the back or pubic area and this helps strengthen bladder wall muscles and increase blood flow to the bladder, and also helps block pain.
- Surgery – This is the last resort, and a laser is used to remove the ulcers in the bladder, thereby enlarging it. Sometimes the bladder is removed and the urine is directed outside through an opening called a Urostomy.
There may be no sure for ladder wall thickening, but research is still going on. Right now, the best way is to learn how to manage the symptoms of the condition.