Oral Medication Treatment for Overactive Bladder (OAB)

If there is not enough improvement with bladder training alone, oral medications called anticholinergics may also help. These medications work by blocking certain nerve impulses to the bladder, which relaxes the bladder muscle which can increase the bladder capacity.

Medication improves symptoms in most cases, but not in all. The amount of improvement varies from person to person. You may have fewer toilet trips, fewer leakage episodes, and less urgency. It is uncommon, however, for symptoms to go away completely with medication alone. Your physician will commonly try a course of medication for 4-6 weeks. If the medication is helpful, you may be advised to continue for up to six months or so and then stop the medication to see how symptoms are without it. Your symptoms may return at this time but if you combine a course of medication with bladder training, the long-term outlook may be better and symptoms may be less likely to return when the medication is stopped. This is why it is best to use these medications in combination with bladder training.

Side effects are quite common with these medications but are often minor and tolerable. Read the information sheet that accompanies your medication for a full list of possible side effects. The most commonly reported side effect is dry mouth but most are able to tolerate this by taking small sips of water throughout the day. Other common side effects include dry eyes, constipation, and blurry vision. Different medications have different reactions with each individual person, so if you find that you are having bothersome side effects with one, you may not have any side effects with another.

Types of Oral Medications

The most commonly prescribed generic anticholinergics are Oxybutynin (Ditropan), Tolterodine (Detrol), Darifenacin (Enablex), and Trospium chloride (Sanctura).

The two common brand name anti-muscarinic medications are Fesoterodine fumarate (Toviaz) and Solifenacin succinate (Vesicare).

A new type of medication on the market is called Mirabegron (Myrbetriq). This medication is a beta-3 adrenergic agonist and works by relaxing the detrusor muscle itself resulting in the bladder being able to hold more urine and lessen the symptoms of overactive bladder. This medication does not have the drying side effects of the anti-muscarinics but this medication can raise your blood pressure.

Health Insurance Coverage

Depending on the specific insurance cover- age, many OAB patients will need to try and fail 2-3 generic medications prior to a brand name medication and/or other treatment options being approved by insurance.

Questions About OAB or Treatments?

If you have any questions about OAB or any of the treatments or think a specific treatment is the right option for you, please discuss these options with your physician, request an appointment or contact us today at 815.409.4930.