CHICAGO -- 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 U.S., 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.
A surprising new discovery from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine reveals the symptoms -- pain and an urgent need to frequently urinate -- are actually being provoked a surprise perpetrator. It's the colon, irritated by the spicy food, that's responsible. The finding provides an explanation for how the body actually "hears" pelvic pain.
The discovery also opens up new treatment possibilities for "painful bladder syndrome," or interstitial cystitis, a condition that primarily affects women (only 10 percent of sufferers are men.) During a flare up, the pelvic pain is so intense some women inject anesthetic lidocaine directly into their bladders to get relief. Patients typically also feel an urgent need to urinate up to 50 times a day and are afraid to leave their homes in case they can't find a bathroom.
"This disease has a devastating effect on people's lives," said David Klumpp, principal investigator and assistant professor of urology at the Feinberg School. "It affects people's relationships with family and friends." Klumpp said some women who suffer from this become so depressed, they attempt suicide.
Klumpp conducted the study with postdoctoral fellow Charles Rudick. The paper is published in the September issue of Nature Clinical Practice Urology.
The Northwestern researchers discovered the colon's central role i
|Contact: Marla Paul|