Are Overactive Bladder Medications Effective?

Exploring Treatment Options and Alternatives

Overactive bladder medication

Incontinence medications are frequently prescribed, but how effective are they in treating incontinence? Here’s what you need to know about incontinence and overactive bladder medications.

What Type of Incontinence  are Medications Used For

Stress Incontinence:

  • Cause: Weak pelvic floor muscles.
  • Medication Effectiveness: Incontinence medications are not effective for stress incontinence. Strengthening exercises and physical therapy are the primary treatments. However, some doctors may mistakenly prescribe medication due to misdiagnosis or lack of knowledge about alternatives.

Overactive Bladder (OAB) / Urge Incontinence:

  • Cause: Involuntary bladder contractions.
  • Medications: 
    • Anticholinergics (Antimuscarinics:These overactive bladder medications[1], such as Ditropan (oxybutynin), block nerve signals that cause involuntary bladder contractions.
      • Effectiveness: A systematic review of 64 studies revealed that 60% of patients reported symptom improvement versus 45% on placebo.[2] However, a study showed that 85% of patients did not take these medications consistently enough to see benefits, with 73% discontinuing within a year.[3]

Why Stop Taking Overactive Bladder Medications?

There are two reasons why patients stop using these medications. First, these medications aren’t as helpful as people hope. We want quick and definitive results, and these medications aren’t that effective. Secondly, these incontinence medications have side effects.

      • Side Effects: Dry mouth, constipation, dry eyes, urinary tract infections, drowsiness, and more. But that’s just with short-term use. When used for years on end (which is required for incontinence treatment) the risk of cognitive impairment is a primary concern. That’s right, overactive bladder medications are associated with dementia. Some studies show partakers have a 50% higher risk of developing dementia[4]. These medications are on the Beers List, indicating they should be avoided in older adults.  Is that a risk you should be taking?
  • Beta-3 Agonists: A Newer Class of Medications – In the last decade, Beta-3 agonists, such as Mirabegron (Myrbetriq), have been developed to treat overactive bladder by relaxing the bladder muscles. These medications are better tolerated and have fewer long-term side effects, but they are expensive, with costs around $400 per month (30 tablets).

Exploring Alternatives to Incontinence Medications

The good thing is that there are more ways to skin a cat! Incontinence medication attempts to block nerves chemically. But since the nervous system is really an electrical system (brain sends current along the nerves) the Elitone Urge does the same thing directly electrically (without the central nervous system or peripheral nerves up the leg).

Electrical Stimulation Devices:

  • Elitone Urge: Uses direct neuromodulation to manage overactive bladder symptoms without involving the central nervous system. It offers better efficacy and almost no side effects, and costs about the same as a month’s supply of newer medications.

For more information on incontinence and treatment options, visit Elitone Urge.

Elitone can help reduce those bladder leaks in just a few weeks!

Related Articles

hypertonicity and incontinence

What is Hypertonicity?

Hypertonicity is when the muscles are excessively tight or contracted. This can affect various muscles in the body, including those on the pelvic floor.
Struggling with frequent urination? Elitone can help.

Causes and Solutions for Frequent Urination

The need for frequent urination can be disruptive, embarrassing, and frustrating. If you find yourself running to the bathroom more often than before, it could be a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction.

[1] Tolterodine, oxybutynin chloride, trospium chloride, propiverine, emepronium bromide, and propantheline [2] Herbison P, Hay-Smith J, Ellis G, Moore K. Effectiveness of anticholinergic drugs compared with placebo in the treatment of overactive bladder: systematic review. BMJ. 2003 Apr 19;326(7394):841-4. doi: 10.1136/bmj.326.7394.841. PMID: 12702614; PMCID: PMC153465. [3] Ng DB, McCart M, Klein C, Campbell C, Schoenhaus R, Berner T. Evaluating Outcomes in Patients with Overactive Bladder within an Integrated Healthcare Delivery System Using a Treatment Patterns Analyzer. Am Health Drug Benefits. 2016 Sep;9(6):343-353. PMID: 27924187; PMCID: PMC5123653. [4] Coupland CAC, Hill T, Dening T, Morriss R, Moore M, Hippisley-Cox J. Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia: A Nested Case-Control Study. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(8):1084–1093. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0677.