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Painful Bladder Syndrome

Painful Bladder Syndrome is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect the bladder and pelvic region. The symptoms are characterized by feelings of discomfort and in some cases pain in the affected areas. Interstitial cystitis is often used interchangeably with painful bladder syndrome, although in a strict sense, PBS is a broader descriptive term while IC refers to a narrow band of symptoms that conform to the definition of IC by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the painful bladder syndrome ICD 10 definition. Generally, PBS is thought to be a group of diseases that conform to the same symptoms.



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The Causes and Risk Factors of PBS

When a person has PBS, the lining of the urinary bladder becomes irritated through mechanisms little understood by scientists. This presents symptoms consistent with those of a bacterial infection although tests usually rule out any infections. Owing to this irritation, the person may feel discomfort when the bladder fills up with urine or when emptying it. They may also experience urinary urgency coupled with frequency. PBS symptoms tend to vary from patient to patient and even in some cases, in a single patient from one time to another. Female PBS cases are more prevalent than painful bladder syndrome male cases with up to 90 percent of all cases being women.

It is not yet fully understood what causes PBS although there have been some advancements made in understanding the condition better. It is possible that multiple factors are involved in the development of the condition. This could perhaps explain the diverse range of symptoms experienced. The most advanced theory currently is the presence of a substance called antiproliferative factor, or APF. This substance is thought to hinder the normal growth of epithelial cells that line the bladder. When this happens, the harmful chemicals in urine may leak into the subepithelial layers and cause irritation.

However, there are risk factors associated with PBS. These include:

  • Sex – Women are more prone to getting PBS than men.
  • Skin and hair color – If you have fair skin and red hair you may have a higher chance of getting IC.
  • Age – PBS has been found to affect people over the age of 30.
  • Chronic pain disorders – Painful Bladder Syndrome and fibromyalgia are comorbid factors that affect each other’s symptoms. Painful Bladder Syndrome and IBS have a similar effect on each other’s symptoms.
  • Heredity – While evidence is still emerging, there have been cases where relatives get the condition.
  • Other factors – Currently suspected but yet unproven factors include autoimmune reactions, infections and allergies.

If you’ve experienced symptoms and risk factors related to PBS, chances are you’ve begun researching them online with queries such as “treatment for PBS near me” or “urologist for painful bladder near me.” If this is you, call Advanced Urology today at 678-344-8900 to learn more about treatment options and make an appointment.

The Causes and Risk Factors of PBS


Prevent PBS by Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle

There are currently no proven ways of preventing PBS. However, because the condition is pain and discomfort related, there are certain things you can do to prevent the escalation of the condition. These include:

  • Painful Bladder Syndrome diet – What you eat can have a significant impact on PBS symptoms. Certain foods have been identified as bladder irritants and so avoiding them may alleviate the symptoms somewhat. Painful Bladder Syndrome foods to avoid are grouped into four Cs: carbonated drinks, caffeine, citrus foods and anything with high levels of Vitamin C. Besides this, you can also keep a food journal, keeping track of the foods that worsen your symptoms and those that do not.
  • Bladder training – Instead of waiting to feel the urge to pee, schedule toilet time so you relieve yourself at regular intervals. Start with short intervals and then over time, increase the intervals until you can hold without too much discomfort.
  • Lifestyle changes – Try wearing loose clothing, employing relaxation techniques, quitting smoking and exercising.

Taking care of your health, in general, can help ameliorate your quality of life as you live with the condition. As the condition can persist over time, having a positive mindset and choosing to be optimistic can also help you cope with the condition.

Prevent PBS by Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle

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When You Should See an Atlanta Doctor for PBS

Painful bladder symptoms can in many cases be self-diagnosed through identification of signs and symptoms. These vary from person to person and from time to time and so must be considered within this purview.

Common signs and symptoms of PBS include:

  • Pelvic pain that may be persistent or intermittent
  • In women, the pain presents between the anus and vagina
  • In men, the pain is usually in the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus)
  • Frequent urination of up to 60 toilet visits a day
  • Small amounts of urine when you go
  • Urgency to urinate
  • Discomfort or pain before, during or after urination
  • Increased pain and discomfort during menstruation
  • Pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Painful Bladder Syndrome and back pain have also been linked

PBS symptoms tend to mimic those of a urinary tract infection although when tested, no pathogens are found. Symptoms, however, may worsen if the person gets a UTI. The severity of the symptoms may also vary from time to time, affected by factors like sitting too long, stress, extreme physical activities and sexual activities. If you encounter any of these symptoms, contact your Atlanta urologist immediately for further testing.

What to Expect When Seeking Treatment for PBS in Atlanta


Painful Bladder Syndrome diagnosis follows a physical, historical, chemical and histological path where your doctor aims to eliminate any other diseases before arriving at a conclusive PBS diagnosis.

Some of the tests involved include:

  • Inquiry into your medical history and background. This may involve keeping a bladder diary.
  • Pelvic exam – The doctor will examine your pelvic area including your external genitalia, and reproductive organs. Your lower abdomen will also be examined to assess your intrapelvic organs.
  • Urinalysis – This will be used to eliminate infection as a cause.
  • Cystoscopy – A thin cystoscope is inserted into your urethra to view your bladder lining.
  • Other tests ordered may include a biopsy, urine cytology, and a PST (potassium sensitivity test)


There is currently no PBS cure. This means there is no straightforward way to treat painful bladder syndrome. Symptomatic treatments have, however, been shown to be effective in reducing discomfort and pain. Painful Bladder Syndrome treatment options incorporate physical therapy, oral painful bladder syndrome medication, nerve stimulation therapy, bladder distention, bladder instillation and surgery. As each case differs from the next, these treatments are applied in a trial and error manner until the most effective combination of treatments is arrived at.