Anticholinergic drugs block the action of a chemical messenger — acetylcholine — that sends signals to your brain that trigger abnormal bladder contractions associated with overactive bladder. These bladder contractions can make you feel the need to urinate even when your bladder isn't full.
Anticholinergic medications include:
- Oxybutynin (Ditropan XL, Oxytrol)
- Tolterodine (Detrol)
- Darifenacin (Enablex)
- Solifenacin (Vesicare)
- Fesoterodine (Toviaz)
These medications are usually given as a pill or tablet that you take by mouth. Oxybutynin is also available as a cream or skin patch that delivers a continuous amount of medication.
It can take several weeks before your symptoms begin to improve on this type of medication. It might take 12 weeks to have the full effect.
The most common side effects of anticholinergics are dry mouth and constipation. An extended-release form, which you take once a day, might cause fewer side effects than the immediate-release versions, which are usually taken multiple times a day.
To counteract dry mouth, try sucking hard candy or chewing gum to produce more saliva. Other less common side effects include heartburn, blurry vision, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), flushed skin, urinary retention and cognitive side effects, such as impaired memory and confusion.
If you use the oxybutynin skin patch, it might cause skin irritation. Your doctor might suggest that you rotate the location of your patch.