Allergies, Hayfever and Interstitial Cystitis


Got killer allergies this year? Is your IC unusually active and flaring? You can blame it on the “pollen vortex.” As if winter’s “polar vortex” wasn’t bad enough, now many of the trees, grasses, weeds and molds are blooming simultaneously creating one of the worst allergy seasons on record.

According to the Weather Channel, the current Tree “pollen hot spots” are Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, Colorado. Grass “pollen hot spots” are Texas, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, California, Idaho, New York and Utah. Weed “pollen hot spots” are Washington, Florida, and Iowa. Of course, this changes daily as new blooms occur and/or die off.

Why should IC/BPS patients be concerned? Both seasonal and food allergies are often found in patients with IC/BPS and, due to the presence of abundant mast cells in the bladder wall, it’s well known that IC flares often intensify during seasonal allergy season. So, if you’re having an extra rough year, this could be one reason why.

What can you do?

#1 – Monitor pollen counts in your area, such as through’s PollenCast. When they are very high, keep your windows closed and/or stay inside, especially between 9am and noon, when pollen counts are at their highest.

#2 – Use an antihistamine – Antihistamines act to reduce the effect of allergies by reducing histamine in your body. Hydroxyzine (aka Vistaril or Atarax) is a Step Two treatment option in the AUA Guidelines and it’s been particularly helpful for IC’ers who have a history of allergies. It should calm allergic reactions in your sinuses and in the bladder. You can also try OTC antihistamine products, such as Claritin Allergy 24 hr, 10mg, 30-Count Box +10 Bonus Tablets.

#3 – Keep To A Bladder Friendly Diet – Remember that your bladder will be more sensitive during allergy season, thus this is the time not to push it by eating irritating foods. Stick with your safe foods for the duration and/or consider using a supplement which might help protect the bladder wall, such as CystoProtek or CystoRenew. This brings to mind a conversation I had with Dr. Lowell Parsons about patients going through chemotherapy. He strongly encouraged those patients to use Elmiron to provide a protective coating to the bladder so that the chemo treatment wouldn’t be so irritating. I think the same might be true during allergy season.

#4 – Stay Hydrated – It’s only natural to associate water with urinary frequency but when you reduce your water intake, dehydration occurs. Your urine becomes darker, cloudier and much more irritating. Remember, urine is filled with waste products, such as ammonia and urea. If that gets concentrated, your bladder will react negatively to it. Stick with your normal six to eight glasses of water a day. If your urine is a clear, pale yellow, then you’re well hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow, brownish or cloudy, then you’re dehydrated and need to drink more water. If your urine is clear with no yellow color, you may be drinking too much water.

#5 – Try a nasal spray – If congestion is driving you crazy, a nasal spray can help. Usually available only by prescription, Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour 120 Sprays, 0.57 Fluid Ounce became available over the counter last year. If you prefer a more natural approach, try a saline solution, such as Ocean® Saline Nasal Spray 3.5 Oz (Pack of 2).

#6 – Use a HEPA air filter – Some allergy sufferers find it very helpful to use a HEPA air filter in their homes to help reduce pollens in the air, as well as other airborne irritants, such as pet dander or dust mites. I’ve used an air filter from SHARPER IMAGE AIR PURIFIER GP MODEL IONIC BREEZE W/ GERMICIDAL for years and love it!

#7 – Catch your symptoms early – It’s too late for this year but, just like IC flares, it’s important to catch your allergy symptoms early so that you can nip big outbreaks! Act early next year or, if you’re allergic to molds, next Fall when molds start to flourish.

Need more flare management tips? We’ll be launching a new Flare Management Center (and APP) soon!!

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Got any more allergy tips?? Please share them below! You must be registered in the ICN Forum to respond in the blog!

Jill O.

About the Author:

My Google Profile+ Jill Heidi Osborne is the president and founder of the Interstitial Cystitis Network, a health education company dedicated to interstitial cystitis, bladder pain syndrome and other pelvic pain disorders. As the editor and lead author of the ICN and the IC Optimist magazine, Jill is proud of the academic recognition that her website has achieved. The University of London rated the ICN as the top IC website for accuracy, credibility, readability and quality. (Int Urogynecol J - April 2013). Harvard Medical School rated both Medscape and the ICN as the top two websites dedicated to IC. (Urology - Sept 11). Jill currently serves on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Panel (US Army) where she collaborates with researchers to evaluate new IC research studies for possible funding. Jill has conducted and/or collaborates on a variety of IC research studies on new therapeutics, pain care, sexuality, the use of medical marijuana, menopause and the cost of treatments, shining a light on issues that influence patient quality of life. An IC support group leader and national spokesperson for the past 20 years, she has represented the IC community on radio, TV shows, at medical conferences. She has written hundreds of articles on IC and its related conditions. With a Bachelors Degree in Pharmacology and a Masters in Psychology, Jill was named Presidential Management Intern (aka Fellowship) while in graduate school. (She was unable to earn her PhD due to the onset of her IC.) She spends the majority of her time providing WELLNESS COACHING for patients in need and developing new, internet based educational and support tools for IC patients, including the “Living with IC” video series currently on YouTube and the ICN Food List smartphone app! Jill was diagnosed with IC at the age of 32 but first showed symptoms at the age of 12.


  1. CherylSLP May 29, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    I finally broke down and got allergy testing in mid April and started shots twice a week with an allergist. My bladder feels better already.

  2. Pee-Tee May 31, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Its winter down here and flaring badly, forwarded this to my doctor so orders allergy tests, my biopsy showed plenty of mast cells, thank you and I wish myself and the rest of you guys relief and endurance

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