Courtesy : IC Optimist
How the Bowel can trigger Bladder Pain
What’s the worst that could happen after eating a slice of pepperoni pizza? A little heartburn, for most people. But for up to a million women in the world, enjoying that piece of pizza has painful consequences. They have a chronic bladder condition that causes pelvic pain. Spicy food-as well as citrus, caffeine, tomatoes and alcohol– can cause a flare in their symptoms and intensify the pain. Researchers had long believed the spike in their symptoms was triggered when digesting the foods produced chemicals in the urine that irritated the bladder.
People with interstitial cystitis have bladder nerves that are constantly transmitting pain signals to the spinal cord: a steady beep, beep, beep. But when the colon is irritated by pepperoni pizza or another type of food, colon nerves also send a pain signal to the same area on the spinal cord. This new signal is the tipping point. It ratches up the pain message to a chorus of BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP!
“It was also known that there was cross between organs, but until now no one had applied the idea to how pain signals affect this real world disease, how the convergence of these two information streams could make these bladder symptoms worse,” said Klumpp, who also is an assistant professor of microbiology-immunology at the Feinberg School.
Klumpp conducted the study with postdoctoral fellow Charles Rudick. The Northwestern researchers discovered the colon’s central role in the pain is caused by the wiring of pelvic organ nerves. Nerves from this region-the bladder, colon, and prostate-are bunched together like telephone wires and plug into the same region of the spinal cord near the tailbone.
It is important to note that both the bladder and bowel can be irritated by foods. This begs the question: should we modify the IC diet to exclude foods known for irritating the bowel? Luckily, we already do. Chocolate and coffee, for example, are notorious bowel irritants. If you are struggling with diet-induced flares, take a moment and look at your diet to see if you are eating any bowel-irritating foods. You might consider eliminating them to see if your symptoms improve.