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Woman crouching next to bed due to painful bladder syndrome
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

How do Histamines Affect Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)?

Newly published research by Grundy et al. (2019) shows a more direct connection.

In this study published in the February 2021 issue of The American Journal of Physiology: Renal Physiology, Grundy et al. show correlation that histamines in the body lead to changes in the sensory nerves of the bladder, particularly hypersensitivity during bladder distension, or when the bladder is filling or full.

The study determined that certain sensory nerves in the bladder can become more sensitive when histamines are present. This activation occurs in the bladder membrane, the detrusor muscles, as well as the afferent nerves of the bladder.

The study also suggests that histamines can increase the activation of certain sensory nerve cell bodies in the central nervous system, which may affect the sensation of fullness of those with IC/painful bladder syndrome.

In a previous study by Shan et al. (2019) also showed the important role of histamines in IC/BPS. In that study, bladder tissues were collected from 69 patients with painful bladder syndrome and 10 control female patients. The study found that 4 histamine receptors were more reactive in the patients with painful bladder syndrome.

These findings will hopefully help guide treatment for this dysfunction which greatly affects quality of life for many of our clients.

What is Painful Bladder Syndrome / Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial Cystitis is a complex bladder dysfunction characterized by the following symptoms:

  • More than 6 months of urinary bladder pain or discomfort
  • Accompanied by urinary symptom such as:
    • Persistent urge to void
    • Urinary urge with pressure
    • Burning and aching pain
    • Increased frequency of urination (more than 8x daily)
  • IC can contribute to chronic pelvic pain and poor quality of life, and may have associated symmptoms like:
  • Low back pain
  • Pain during sex or pain after sex

Musculoskeletal Dysfunction and IC Symptoms

Recent research supports that musculoskeletal dysfunction, specifically in the pelvic floor, can refer symptoms to the bladder and urethra. A full intake examination with a trained pelvic floor physical therapist can help determine if this is the case for you.

Contact us with any questions you may have about your Painful Bladder Syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis diagnosis. We have a number of treatment options available!

** The American Urological Association has recently (2022) published updated guidelines to the treatment of IC and BPS.  These updates are highlighted and discussed in our blog post: Updates to Interstitial Cystitis / Bladder Pain Syndrome Treatment Guidelines. **



Shan H, Zhang EW, Zhang P, et al. Differential expression of histamine receptors in the bladder wall tissues of patients with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis - significance in the responsiveness to antihistamine treatment and disease symptoms. BMC Urol. 2019;19(1):115. Published 2019 Nov 12. doi:10.1186/s12894-019-0548-3

Jones BM, Tykocki NR. New direct evidence that histamine augments bladder sensory outflow during filling is nothing to sneeze at. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2020 Feb 1;318(2):F455-F456. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00581.2019. Epub 2020 Jan 6. PMID: 31904288; PMCID: PMC7052655.

Grundy, L., Caldwell, A., Garcia Caraballo, S., Erickson, A., Schober, G., Castro, J., … Brierley, S. M. (2019). Histamine induces peripheral and central hypersensitivity to bladder distension via the histamine H1 receptor and TRPV1. American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology. doi:10.1152/ajprenal.00435.2019

What Our Patients Have to Say


Testimonial by Lauren B.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has been such an answer to prayer, i'm so glad I found them! I've been struggling with vaginismus my whole life, but didn't have a name for it until about 6 or 7 months ago. Even once I did have a name for it though, I didn't know where to begin in getting help. My OB/GYN had me get a set of dilators, but I couldn't even insert the smallest one by myself. Most times I tried I just ended up frustrated and in tears. I felt really alone, like I was broken and didn't have the energy to keep trying. When I got engaged a few months ago though, I realized I needed to get answers so i wasn't dreading my honeymoon.

Read more: Testimonial by Lauren B.

Testimonial by Carolina J.

I had tried Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy before (with another PT) and I had a really bad (painful) experience. A friend of mine and fellow patient, told me about Heather, Laureen and Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) and I decided to try again. I am so happy I did! Femina PT have, literally, changed my life. I was able to do again things I couldn't do for over 10 years!! Their bedside manners are impeccable, their knowledge and understanding make me feel comfortable to recommend this place to anyone in pain. Specially if you have Endometriosis. 100% recommended!!

-- Carolina J., 12/28/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Jackie W.

I was in multiple car accidents a decade ago, and I have been to many physical therapists through the years without success. They found the root of my lower back pain problems and after nearly a decade of barely being able to walk I finally can again without pain. They are also the best pelvic floor pts and the only ones who found the connection between my pelvic floor and lower back problems. If you need help with physical pain, they are your answer.

-- Jackie W., 1/19/17 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by S.S., age 54

Heather is the best! I saw her today for terrible hip/groin pain. I was so impressed with the safety measures in place and felt completely safe . Thanks for the healing hands.

S.S., age 54

Testimonial by Julie T.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has honestly changed my life. Before receiving treatment at Femina, I was going doctor to doctor to try and find the answer to my pelvic pain. It has taken me YEARS to find someone that can help fix this. It wasn't until my gynecologist recommended your clinic that I finally felt relief. My pelvic pain is almost gone, and granted I still have a lot more to work on with Laureen (my PT), my original problem is nearly cured. I am so grateful to her.

What is even better is she gave me practical exercises to do at home that were not tedious and provided instant (and lasting) relief. Although I mainly work with Laureen, my interaction with the owner (Heather) has been great. She is very generous, kind, and committed to her business.

It hurts to know there are women out there suffering who will never know or have the opportunity to work with women like Laureen and Heather because this issue is hardly talked about and this field is so rare. I hope more doctors and physical therapists see the value in this work and can relieve more woman of their pain.

-- Julie T., 12/4/16 via Yelp!

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