Overactive bladder is a very common condition that causes a feeling of having to urinate frequently. The most common treatment for an overactive bladder is a drug called oxybutynin (brand name Ditropan), which is in a class of medications known as anticholinergics.
An anticholinergic agent is any substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which regulates the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. In the bladder, Ditropan decreases muscle spasms.
But there are serious side effects associated with long-term use of anticholinergic drugs. Researchers looked at the use of Ditropan in patients over 65 who were suffering from overactive bladder. They reported that the long-term use of Ditropan has been consistently linked with cognitive impairment and dementia.
Elderly people in our country are frequently overmedicated. All drugs have side effects, but the side effects of most drugs are magnified in the elderly because they do not detoxify them as well as a younger person.
Anticholinergic drugs decrease the body’s ability to sweat, which the elderly are particularly sensitive to. They can also cause confusion, memory loss, and cognitive decline.
These drugs should be taken for short time periods only, and should be prescribed for the elderly only as a last resort.
For overactive bladder, I have found that cleaning up the diet and removing refined foods can be helpful. Avoiding food allergies also helps this condition.
Finally, ozone insufflation into the bladder has proven very effective.
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