Overactive Bladder Medications are Only Slightly Beneficial
For men and women with an overactive bladder, medications are tempting. From rushing to the bathroom while spending a day out shopping or running errands to getting up several times a night, an overactive bladder is inconvenient and often uncomfortable. Approximately 11 to 16 million U.S. women experience some form of overactive bladder. Estimates are similar in men, but men may experience overactive bladder due to prostate conditions. Overactive bladder can resolve itself and approximately 35% of women report the condition going away on its own.
Unfortunately, new research shows that medications to curb overactive bladders only correlate with a small improvement in incontinence episodes. “Evidence from more than 27,000 women participating in randomized controlled trials suggests that improvement in symptoms with anticholinergic management of overactive bladder is modest and rarely fully resolves symptoms,” the authors write.
If you only have mild symptoms, the side effects of overactive bladder medications may not be worth the modest benefits. Side effects can include dry mouth, constipation, headache, blurred vision, and dry eyes.
The symptoms of overactive bladder are:
- Urinating eight or more times per day
- Waking up more than twice a night to go to the bathroom
- An overwhelming and sudden need to urinate, even if you’ve recently gone to the bathroom
- Leaking urine before you’re able to make it to a bathroom
Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, run, jump, or laugh is not a symptom of an overactive bladder, but “stress incontinence” and is sometimes confused with overactive bladder.
Alternatives to Medicine
There are a few things you can try besides medicine. They include:
- Cutting back on caffeinated beverages
- Try Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles
- “Bladder training” – timing urination at specific intervals and learning to hold your urine for longer periods of time
Though no overactive bladder medications perform miracles, if you have tried home remedies and still experience persistent overactive bladders, some medications are better than others. According to a Consumer Report, October 2013, an “analysis found that none of those drugs are clearly more effective than the others. However, they do differ in cost and the side effects they cause, including: constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, blurry vision, and dizziness. Studies have found that Ditropan XL, Detrol LA, Oxytrol, Sanctura, Vesicare, and Enablex may cause fewer side effects.”
If you experience overactive bladder, talk to your doctor about home remedies, medicines, and potentially a mix of the two.