What You Need to Know About the Overactive Bladder Patch
Covering the Overactive Bladder Patch
The overactive bladder patch is just one of the treatment options available to help relax bladder muscles in women. It contains the active ingredient oxybutynin, which is a type of anticholinergic drug to reduce urinating urgency and frequency.
The patch is discreet and easy to use, which are just two of the reasons why many patients make the switch from oral anticholinergics. Make sure you understand all of the benefits and risks of the overactive bladder patch if you’re considering using it.
Who Qualifies for the Patch?
Overactive bladder is often stereotyped as being exclusive to older women. The fact is that both men and women of all ages can develop overactive bladder, including incontinence and bladder leaks. Overactive bladder is characterized by:
- urinating more than eight times in 24 hours
- frequent incontinence
- inability to hold urine accompanied by strong urges to go
- waking up in the middle of the night to urinate
If you have any of these symptoms, you may qualify for the overactive bladder patch. But first, it’s important to discuss the condition with your doctor to rule out any other underlying problems, such as nerve problems or bladder infections.
How the Patch is Used
The patch is ideal if you don’t want to mess with daily tablets. The patch delivers transdermal oxybutynin as an extended-release formula. Oxybutynin controls bladder muscle spasms so you can enjoy less frequent urges and bathroom trips. The extended release provides the right amount of medicine over a longer period of time. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that patients can apply the patch every three to four days.
For the best results, apply the patch on the same days every week.
Oxybutynin patches are easy to use when applied correctly. They are best applied around the hips and stomach, and on clean, dry skin. It may be best not to apply the patch on the same spot within a one-week timespan. Find a different spot on the skin when you apply your second patch of the week. The patch should not rub against any tight clothing or be exposed to the sun, which can damage the product.
Potential Side Effects
While the patch may be easier to use than oral medications, all forms of these drugs cause similar side effects because they work in the body the same way. Dry mouth and constipation are the most common effects, and you may even experience discomfort at the site of the patch.
Any symptoms that don’t go away should be addressed with your doctor. Call for help immediately if you have signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
- even more frequent urination
- rash or hives
- breathing difficulties
- facial swelling
Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter Patches
Transdermal oxybutynin was approved in early 2013 as an over-the-counter patch for women. Sold under the brand-name Oxytrol, you can pick up the product at your local drugstore without talking to a doctor first. As the patch increases in popularity, there may be other ones available in both prescription and over-the-counter forms. Oxybutynin is not the only medication used to treat overactive bladder.
Risks of Self-Medicating for Overactive Bladder
Oxytrol is convenient for women looking for relief from overactive bladder, but some of the risks can outweigh the benefits. Not addressing your symptoms with a doctor can lead to more health problems if you misdiagnose yourself with overactive bladder. Urge incontinence may be linked to nerve damage from a related condition, such as stroke. Frequent bathroom trips can also signal an infection.
Always discuss your symptoms with a physician first before you self-medicate with the overactive bladder patch.
The Patch Can’t Cover All Bladder Problems
The patch can potentially provide some relief from frequent urination. Still, the medication isn’t a cure-all for overactive bladder. Like other drugs, transdermal oxybutynin is designed to complement lifestyle changes. Some of the measures you can take to control overactive bladder include:
- controlling your weight
- timing bathroom trips to strengthen the bladder muscles
- limiting caffeine
- avoiding liquids before bedtime
- Bladder Control: What Men Need to Know (2010, September 2). National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Retrieved December 15, 2013 from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/bcm_ES/index.aspx
- Oxybutynin Transdermal Patch (2013, August 15). Medline Plus. Retrieved December 14, 2013 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a604016.html
- What I Need to Know About Bladder Control for Women (2012, June 29). National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Retrieved December 14, 2013 from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/bcw_ez/index.aspx