What is a flare and How do I combat it?

Sufferers of chronic conditions describe a flare as a time of increased intensity of symptoms. With Interstitial Cystitis, these flares are known to last either on a long term chronic basis,  intermittently or occasionally. Though it can also reach remission for those fortunately finding their therapeutic mixture of remedies. There are four common types of flare, these are:

  • Hunner's Lesion/ Nerve flares - These flares are created by acidity reaching the ulcers, lacerations and agitating the bladder nerves internally. They can be characterised by a feeling of a blade scraping the bladder or vinegar being poured onto sores and a large increase in frequency and urgency. During these flares the bladder has often been irritated by acidic sensitivity, can be extremely painful and debilitating and become more inflamed than usual. 

  • Inflammation response flares - In these instances, the first thing to begin is the swelling of the pelvis region. These flares are triggered by the autoimmune system and are known to be extremely uncomfortable. The feeling is comparable to having a football or rugby ball in place of your bladder, and having it pumped with air from the inside. This can lead to mobility issues due to the bodies pain defense reactions, inability to fit into comfortable clothing or discomfort. Characterized by the swelling, perinnial and pelvic pulsating or throbbing pain, it can be in combination with other flare types too.

  • Pelvic floor flares - These can be a product of sexual intercourse, long periods of sitting, or something seemingly as simple as riding a bike. They are more of a burning feeling in the urethra, vaginal area, or any part of the pelvic floor. They can also be characterised by the feeling as though something is falling out of or being pushed into your urethra. These flares are found to mimic Urine Infection, Cystitis and Thrush type conditions.

  • A muscle flare - Which is typically when the bladder muscle goes into spasms and will often cause a severe aching feeling in the bladder. The pelvic floor muscles can also become tight, spasm, and ache. Sometimes this kind of a flare in the early stages can be mistaken for Pelvic Inflammatory disease, which is why future testing is valid and important.

  • OR of course a combined flare which is what they can certainly turn into for the severe ​sufferers.

How do I cope with a flare?

Coping with a flare can be difficult. It’s at these times that we face our toughest battles, mentally, physically and emotionally. The bottom feels so close, but it really isn’t. You go through this pain, this suffering but that doesn’t mean you have lost the times of beauty too. This is disguising a blessing of strength and courage that really, beforehand you didn’t know you were capable of. Though the below may not be constructive to each and every one of us, you can try a variety of remedies to alleviate some of the parts of a flare, alongside your prescriptions, you may find these techniques useful:

  • Hot and cold Therapies - Applying cold to an area is said to relieve inflammation and pressure pain by numbing the area. This can be used in combination with heat therapy, which is useful to bring relief by relaxing any tight or restricted muscles. You are able to purchase perennial cool and heat pads, hot water bottles, cool or ice packs and pads online (on Amazon and other places). These can be used in a mixture of ways and places that may assist in your journey. 

  • Pressure / Support - Applying pressure to an area or massaging in a soothing circular motion with slight pressure on the affected areas, can be soothing and help relax tension. As can adopting a squatting position or sitting with your knees to your chest.

  • Water and bathing for release - Using the temperature advice above and implicating it into using the loo can be very helpful. If you are suffering the burning and frequency, try using a slightly filled bath to go to the loo, this can alleviate some of the discomfort of urinating. Another method is dampening some toilet paper to apply to the area before, during or after using the toilet. 

  • Bathing for comfort - You may find that essential oils or epsom salts in a bathtub during a flare, can be used to create a great pH induced bath that doesn’t irritate your bladder. Try attempting relaxation in a bath of water  with added Epsom Salt or the recommended DoTerra and Young Living oils.

  • Pelvic floor yoga and stretching - You can find a variety of pelvis stimulating yoga moves that may assist in the pain you are suffering. Click to visit the site here that can teach you some of these moves. You can find some great help on pelvic exercises and motions through Pelvicsanity.com.

  • Tens Electrical stimulation - Some IC sufferers have TENs machines in the comfort of their home. These machines stimulate the nerves in a way that can synthetically assist in redirecting pain. If you do not have one of these, you are able to discuss this with a Urologist and can purchase them online too.

  • Supplements - There are supplements suggested by a variety of patients and medical professionals. This means finding a combination to suit you. Some suggestions are: D Mannose; Aloe Vera; Calcium glycerophosphate (prelief); Marshmallow Root; water with a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda); Omega 3; Probiotics; Antioxidants; L’Arginine; Pumpkin seed oil; Calcium citrate; bromelain. 

  • Water Intake - Keep the levels of water up. I know it seems weird to the outside world when they see your use of the loo and see how regularly you drink, yet they do not realise the need to flush acidity through the body and dilute whatever is made. Regular daily intake is 2 litres a day, so ensure you at least get this amount. Flushing through the urinary tract does take a little time and patience, but it may possibly alleviate some of the symptoms you face.

  • Reducing Stress - You will find yourself feeling a little more relieved the less stressed you are. My suggestion is to try yoga , stretches, meditation and breathing exercises when in need of relaxation. Perhaps reading, singing, or finding an art you enjoy (even adults colouring books). You may want to put on a face mask, play a console, whatever has floats your boat before you felt you had sunk.

  • Crystal Therapy - Crystals have been used by healers throughout the ages as natural treatments for a variety of conditions. If you like  hollistic approach, those said to aid the symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis are: Angel Aura Quartz; Aquamarine; Danburite; Moonstone; Rose Quartz

  • Herbal Tea - Marshmallow root, Rooibos, Buchu, Cleavers, Camomile, Corn silk, Horsetail, Usnea, Pumpkin, Honey.

  • Essential oils - Rubbing essential oils onto the skin or burning them in an oil burner can have a wide range of positive effects on your body and mind. Some of the oils said to be good for the healing of Interstitial Cystitis are Sandalwood; Thyme; Sage, Cyprus, Lavender; Geranium; Bergamot; Frankincence; Tea Tree; Oregano



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To help you ensure you plan on keeping the bright through the dark


You may find it useful for managing any trigger foods


Helpful tool for recording any cycles of pain; always useful for monitoring your progress