Oxybutynin: Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

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Oxybutynin is a prescription drug which belongs to a group of drugs called antispasmodics (anticholinergics). It is used to treat urinary bladder spasms as it suppresses the involuntary contraction of the soft muscles of the bladder. It also helps to relax the detrusor muscle of the bladder. This drug is available both as a generic drug and a brand name drug. Common brand names include Ditropan, Ditropan XL, Oxytrol, etc. It is presented as an immediate-release tablet, an extended-release tablet, syrup, gel and skin patch. Only the generic form of the immediate-release oral tablet is available but the extended-release tablet is available as both generic and brand name drugs. Oxybutynin was approved for use by the FDA in July 1975.

Oxybutynin Uses

It’s used to treat overactive bladder in individuals who cannot hold urine due to the involuntary contraction of their bladder. This often leads to frequent urination with an urgent and intense need to urinate. Oxybutynin works by blocking the release of acetylcholine therefore suppressing the involuntary contraction of the smooth muscles of the bladder. Contraction of this muscle is due to the release of acetylcholine by the nerves of the bladder. The acetylcholine is attached to the receptors located on the surface of the bladder muscle cells.

Oxybutynin is also used to release tension on the external part of the bladder muscle and relax it. This drug is not to be used by children under the age of 5 unless recommended by their doctor. Read product label before using this drug. Check if you are allergic to any of the drug constituents. Do not use this drug if you are allergic to oxybutynin. If you have untreated narrow-angle glaucoma, blockage in your digestive tract or are unable to urinate, this drug is not for you.

Take oxybutynin by mouth (as prescribed by your doctor), with a glass of water. It can be taken with or without food. If you are taking the extended-release tablet, do not crush or chew in the mouth. Your risk of side effect will be increased if you do so as all the drug will be released suddenly and at once. Split whole tablets only when they have score lines (with your doctor’s permission). To get the most benefit out of this drug, use consistently, at the same time and on a daily basis. Let your doctor know if you have difficulty swallowing tablets.


Oxybutynin Dosage


Use oxybutynin exactly as directed by your doctor. If you are taking the liquid type, use a special measuring cup or spoon to measure the prescribed quantity. Your doctor will prescribe your dosage based on your state of health and how you respond to treatment. The duration of this treatment will be decided by your doctor by placing you off medication (periodically) as a test run to determine if you can carry on without the drug.

The initial dose for adults using this drug to manage urinary inconsistence and control urinary frequency is 5 mg to be taken 2 to 3 times daily (immediate-release tablet or syrup) and 5 mg once daily (extended-release tablet ). If you are using a skin patch, use twice weekly (every 3 to 4 days).

For urinary inconsistence in children 1 to 5 years, 0.2 mg/kg dose, 2 to 4 times daily is recommended (immediate-release tablet) while 5 mg is to be used 2 times daily by children above 5. Children above 6 years are given 5 mg, once daily (extended-release tablets). These doses may be increased by your doctor, not more than once every week.

Your condition should improve within two weeks. Continue taking your medication until your doctor tells you to stop. This could take about 6-8 weeks. If after 8 weeks there is no improvement, tell your doctor. Oxybutynin can only control your symptoms not cure them.

If you miss any dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you remember close to your next dose time, wait till the next dose and take a single dose. Do not double your dose to make up for the missed dose. Take this drug as directed by your doctor, do not overdose. If you accidentally overdose, call your doctor or contact the poison control centre immediately. Overdosing may cause breathing problem, delirium or even paralysis.


Oxybutynin Side Effects

Side effects may arise from using this drug. There are certain symptoms the body may express as it tries to adapt to this drug.

The following symptoms have been reported by patients as effects experienced when using oxybutynin:

  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Patchy and dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dry skin
  • Cough


These symptoms will clear up as you continue using this drug. However, in rare cases, they might become severe and progressive. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience these severe side effects;

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Lower back pain
  • Fever
  • Painful urination
  • Confusion
  • Poor vision
  • Swollen arms, ankles, legs and feet
  • Persistent nausea
  • Prolonged constipation

If you exhibit the following symptoms while using this medication, you may be allergic to oxybutynin; skin rash, severe dizziness, breathing problem and swollen face.


Tell your doctor about all the drugs you are using before starting this medication. Some drugs may affect the way oxybutynin works. Others may have dangerous effects if taken together with this drug. Do not alter your dosage without your doctor’s consent. Let the doctor know your medical history and any form of allergy you have. Do not give your drug to another person even if they express the same symptoms as you. Let the individual see a doctor about their condition. Do not drive, use machinery or engage in activities that will require you to be alert and awake. This drug may cause drowsiness. Stay away from such activities till you are done with your medication, to avoid any form of accident. Discuss with your doctor before using this drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Store drugs away from children and pets, in an airtight container away from moisture, direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. Dispose unused drug through the drug take-back program. Do not bury them yourself or flush down the toilet.

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