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If you’re one of the 33 million Americans with an overactive bladder, you know how stressful it can be…
Not only do you have to go to the bathroom every two seconds, but you have to worry about unexpected leaks and accidents whenever you leave the house. It can really put a damper on your work and social life.
So if you have this problem, you’re probably desperately searching for a solution that allows you to leave your house without scouting out the nearest bathroom.
Maybe you’ve even visited your doctor for help. But if you have, beware…especially if he or she pulls out the prescription pad.
One of the most common prescription medications for overactive bladder comes with some serious side effects… side effects that are much worse than all the urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence in the world…
The common bladder medication with devastating side effects
Oxybutynin is a bladder relaxant commonly used to treat overactive bladder (you may also know it by popular brand names like Ditropan, Gelnique and Oxytrol).
As a bladder relaxant, oxybutynin relaxes the muscles in your bladder and reduces your urinary urgency, frequency and incontinence.
But here’s the catch…
Several studies have shown that it causes thinking problems and an increased risk of dementia in older adults. Yet it’s still being prescribed to older adults all the time…
In fact, a recent study from researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that oxybutynin is still prescribed to people over 65 who have an overactive bladder 27 percent of the time.
Part of the reason this drug is still being prescribed to older adults despite well-known risks is that a lot of doctors don’t know about the brain dangers of this drug (another reason you should always do your own due diligence after a doctor’s visit).
Anticholinergic medications are bad no matter what your age
If you’re well under 65, you may be wondering… what about younger adults? Is oxybutynin safe for us?
Well, researchers claim that oxybutynin is a safe treatment for younger people with an overactive bladder. But I’d take that advice with a grain of salt…
In general, most drugs are harder on older people because their bodies take longer to break them down and clear them out. But there’s really no data on how this medication affects younger people who take it long-term. So I’d say, better safe than sorry no matter what your age.
Now, if you’re wondering why oxybutynin is so bad for older (and possibly younger) brains, here’s why…
It’s a type of anticholinergic medication. Anticholinergic medications block the brain chemical acetylcholine, which does two important things in your body — promote muscle contractions and participate in your brain’s learning and memory. So while that oxybutynin is preventing the muscle contractions in your bladder, it’s also messing with your memory and cognitive abilities.
And just so you know, the other bladder relaxants used to treat overactive bladder are also anticholinergic medications. So don’t think you’re off the hook if your doctor prescribes something other than oxybutynin, like darifenacin (Enablex), tolterodine (Detrol), trospium (Sanctura) or solifenacin (Vesicare).
A better answer to overactive bladder…
So what can you do to treat your overactive bladder without putting your brain in danger?
Well, my colleague Jedha Dening recently provided a list of natural, effective and brain-friendly solutions to this common problem. Her suggestions included:
- Taking pumpkin seed extract
- Taking lignans and isoflavones
- Trying electrical stimulation
- Doing core muscle exercises
- Doing kegel exercises
Check out her suggestions for relieving overactive bladder in more detail so you can finally find some bladder relief… without sacrificing your brain health.
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Overactive bladder — The Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
Drug tied to dementia risk overprescribed to seniors: study — MedicalXpress. etrieved April 8, 2017.
Common anticholinergic drugs like Benadryl linked to increased dementia risk — Harvard Medical School. Retrieved April 8, 2017.