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Urologist and Allergist Explore Link Between Allergies and Interstitial Cystitis
Date:6/19/2009

enon in a more formal way.

These doctors found they were referring patients to each other. Hubbard was sending IC patients with seasonal allergies to Smith, and Smith had allergy patients who also had bladder symptoms. Then, they found that Smith's allergy testing and treatment was helping to resolve IC symptoms, sometimes dramatically.

Foods Fingered

Although IC patients' seasonal allergy miseries are what gave the clue to the connection, Smith is finding that food allergies are common in IC patients. He estimates that 35 to 40 percent of the IC patients he sees have bona fide allergies to foods, based on the results of their skin prick tests and elimination-challenge diets, and that their IC gets better when they remove those foods from their diet. "We've been able to identify a lot of food allergies that IC patients didn't even know they had," noted Heather Lange, ARNP, the nurse practitioner who works with urologist Hubbard's IC patients.

Stimulants, such as coffee and tea, and the acid and spicy foods that have long been known to cause problems for IC patients may be bladder irritants even without allergy. "Put those on already irritated bladder tissue, and you probably are going to see a response," Smith said. But he's also finding allergic reactions to some of these items in IC patients. Positive skin prick tests for cayenne (a hot pepper) seem to be common.

The effect on IC of treating environmental allergies with shots or medications is less obvious, said Smith, but still seems to be beneficial. About half to a third of the IC patients he sees have proven environmental allergies or symptoms, such as hay fever, asthma, recurrent ear infections, or chronic urticaria (hives).

Hubbard and Smith are collaborating on a more formal study of the link. One goal is to find a marker that will help urologists decide which patients may benefit from allergy test
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SOURCE Interstitial Cystitis Association
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