|Type of medicine||Antimuscarinic|
|Used for||Urinary symptoms such as frequency, urgency and incontinence|
|Also called||Cystrin®, Ditropan®, Lyrinel® XL, Kentera®|
|Available as||Tablets, prolonged-release tablets, and patches|
Oxybutynin is used to treat symptoms such as urinary frequency, which is a need to pass urine more often than normal, and urinary urgency, which is a need to pass urine more urgently than usual. You also may pass urine when you do not mean to. There are several different causes of these urinary symptoms, such as weakened pelvic floor muscles, problems causing your bladder muscles to contract too much or too early, and medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Sometimes the cause of these symptoms is unknown. In addition to these uses, oxybutynin may also be prescribed for older children (over 5 years of age) to help reduce bed-wetting caused by an overactive bladder.
Oxybutynin works by reducing the activity of your bladder. This helps to control the release of urine and eases your symptoms.
Before taking oxybutynin
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking oxybutynin it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have a condition which can cause a blockage in your stomach, bowel, or urinary tract.
- If you have glaucoma (an increased pressure in your eyes).
- If you have hiatus hernia, an overactive thyroid, or high blood pressure.
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have a heart condition, such as an abnormal heart rhythm, problems with the blood vessels in your heart, or heart failure.
- If you have problems with your prostate.
- If you have myasthenia gravis (this is a condition causing muscle weakness).
- If you have a rare inherited blood condition called porphyria.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take oxybutynin
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of oxybutynin you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take oxybutynin exactly as your doctor has told you. Your dose will be on the label of the pack to remind you, but if you are unsure about how many tablets to take, then ask your pharmacist to explain it to you again. Take the tablets with a drink of water which will help you to swallow them.
- If you have been given standard-release tablets (such as Cystrin® or Ditropan®), you will have been asked to take one tablet two or three times a day to begin with. Your doctor may increase your dose as you go on, depending upon how you respond. If these tablets have been prescribed for your child to reduce bed-wetting, it is best if they take the last dose just before they go to bed.
- If you have been given the prolonged-release tablets (Lyrinel® XL), then you will have been asked to take one tablet every day to begin with, although your doctor may increase your dose as you go on. These tablets have been specially made to release oxybutynin evenly over the day, so it is important that you swallow them whole - do not chew or crush them.
- Try to take your tablets at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them. If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time to take your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
- If you are using patches, you should apply one patch to a clean and dry area of skin on your abdomen, hip or bottom. Leave the patch for 3 or 4 days before you remove it and apply another patch. Apply the new patch to a different area of your abdomen, hip or bottom. Leave this patch on for the rest of the week before changing it for a new patch again.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress and review your treatment.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with oxybutynin. This is because some medicines (particularly antihistamines) can increase the chance that you will experience unwanted effects such as a dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision.
- Drinks containing caffeine (for example, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cola) may make your symptoms worse. This is because caffeine is a natural diuretic and will make you need to pass urine. If you drink a lot of caffeine-containing fluids, consider switching to decaffeinated alternatives.
- Try to maintain a normal life as much as possible with regard to drinking and visiting the toilet. However, drinking late at night may mean your sleep is disturbed by the desire to get up and go to the toilet, so you may want to avoid drinking too much during the evening.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking oxybutynin.
Can oxybutynin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common oxybutynin side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well-balanced diet containing plenty of fibre, and drink several glasses of water each day|
|Feeling drowsy or dizzy, or blurred vision||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Feeling sick, abdominal pain||Eat simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Urinary (water) infections, skin irritation (if using patches)||If troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store oxybutynin
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Cystrin® 5 mg Tablets; Zentiva, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Lyrinel® XL; Janssen-Cilag Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Kentera® oxybutynin transdermal patch; Nicobrand Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2011.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Hannah Gronow