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    Anticholinergics for Urinary Incontinence in Spinal Cord Injuries

    Examples

    Generic Name Brand Name
    fesoterodine Toviaz
    oxybutynin Ditropan, Oxytrol
    solifenacin Vesicare
    tolterodine Detrol
    trospium Sanctura

    How It Works

    Anticholinergic medicines prevent spasms of the bladder muscle, which keeps it from emptying involuntarily and helps control urinary incontinence.

    Why It Is Used

    Anticholinergics can be used to treat reflex incontinence after a spinal cord injury.

    How Well It Works

    Research reports that using anticholinergics results in fewer spasms of the bladder muscle and thus fewer accidents. The bladder may also be able to hold more urine.1

    Side Effects

    All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

    Here are some important things to think about:

    • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
    • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
    • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

    Call your doctor if you have:

    • Hives.
    • Vision problems.
    • Bloody or cloudy urine.
    • Pain or burning when you urinate.
    • Problems with urination, including:
      • Difficulty starting to urinate.
      • A urine stream that stops and starts.
      • A weak urine stream.
      • A need to strain while urinating.
      • A sense that the bladder is not empty after urination.
    • A dry mouth for more than 2 weeks.

    Common side effects of this medicine include:

    See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

    What To Think About

    Dry mouth is common with these medicines. To help with dry mouth, you can chew sugarless gum, suck on sugarless candy, or melt ice in your mouth. If you continue to have problems with dry mouth after a couple of weeks, call your doctor. Dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

    Some of these medicines may cause you to sweat less. In hot weather, this could lead to heat exhaustion. Ask your doctor whether you should be careful about being physically active in hot conditions.

    Taking medicine

    Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

    There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

    Advice for women

    If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

    Checkups

    Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

    Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

    Citations

    1. Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine (2006). Bladder management for adults with spinal cord injury. Available online: http://www.pva.org.

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
    Specialist Medical ReviewerNancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

    Current as ofMarch 12, 2014

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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