Active Ingredients

Oxybutynin – Effect, Application & Risks


The active substance oxybutynin belongs to the anticholinergics . It is structurally related to the alkaloid atropine .

What is oxybutynin?

Oxybutynin belongs to the group of anticholinergics and parasympatholytics. The remedy is used to treat a strong urge to urinate or bedwetting at night . The smooth muscles of the bladder are relaxed and the urge to urinate is reduced, which means that the patient no longer has to empty his bladder as often.

Oxybutynin has been used in Europe since the late 1980s. Since 2007 there have been transdermal patches in addition to tablets. Drug forms are also available in the USA that are not approved in Europe. These are gels that the patient applies to the skin, allowing the active ingredient to enter the bloodstream .

Structurally, oxybutynin is a racemate related to atropine. The tertiary amine occurs in the pharmaceuticals as oxybutynin hydrochloride or oxybutynin. Oxybutynin hydrochloride is a crystalline, whitish powder that can be easily dissolved in water.

Pharmacological action

Oxybutynin belongs to the active ingredient group of spasmolytics, which have an antispasmodic effect. The remedy is able to act on both muscles and nerves . The body’s own neurotransmitter acetylcholine is thus displaced by its receptors , which are located on the parasympathetic nervous system . The parasympathetic nervous system belongs to the main nerves of the autonomic nervous system .

By inhibiting the muscarinic M-acetylcholine receptors, relaxation of the smooth muscles of the bladder is achieved. This effect causes excessive tension in the bladder muscles to relax. In this way, the urinary bladder has more capacity. As a result, the patient feels less urge to urinate and suffers less frequently from the uncontrolled loss of urine . Furthermore, oxybutynin inhibits sweat gland secretion.

Medical Application & Use

Oxybutynin is mainly used against different forms of urinary incontinence . The people affected primarily suffer from excessive tensing of the urinary bladder muscle, which is usually noticeable at night. In addition, involuntary leakage of urine can occur.

Other areas of application for oxybutynin are nocturnal bedwetting (enuresis nocturna), a spastic neurogenic urinary bladder, hypersensitivity in the bladder wall muscles due to neurogenic disorders, and an unstable bladder in women.

There are also uses for oxybutynin that are not yet fully approved. The anticholinergic is also administered as an off-label treatment for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating ). However, this area of ​​application is not approved in all European countries.

In most cases, oxybutynin is taken in the form of tablets. The recommended dose in the early stages is half a tablet three times a day. In the further course of treatment, the daily dose is half to one tablet. Later, the lowest dosage is recommended. If necessary, the dose can be increased to one tablet four times a day. Children over the age of five can also take oxybutynin. The recommended daily dose is half a tablet twice.

Risks & side effects

In some patients, the use of oxybutynin results in undesirable side effects . However, these do not show up in everyone. In most cases, the people affected suffer from constipation , dry mouth , increased heart rate , heat build-up, cardiac arrhythmias , tachycardia , extensive swelling of the skin and mucous membranes , facial swelling , tiredness , dizziness , urinary retention , skin rashes ,impotence , nausea , vomiting and loss of appetite .

Blurred vision , sensitivity to light , dilation of the pupils , reduced tear flow , problems with urination , headaches and allergic skin reactions are also possible. In rare cases, anxiety disorders at night or confusion also appear .

With long-term use of oxybutynin there is a risk of gum disease, tooth decay or a yeast infection in the mouth .

The administration of oxybutynin does not make sense if the patient suffers from hypersensitivity to the drug. Other contraindications are urinary flow disorders due to a narrowing of the urethra or a benign enlargement of the prostate (prostate gland), urinary urgency and nightly urination due to kidney weakness or cardiac muscle weakness , gastrointestinal diseases , an intestinal obstruction (ileus) or ulcers of the colon .

The use of oxybutynin during pregnancy and lactation is not recommended. The drug is not suitable for children under the age of five.

There are also some interactions with other medications to consider. The effect of oxybutynin increases when other anticholinergics or anti-Parkinson drugs such as amantadine are taken at the same time . The same applies to atropine , neuroleptics such as butyrophenones or phenothiazines , quinidine , H1 antihistamines and tricyclic antidepressants .

The oxybutynin effect can be prolonged by using antifungal agents such as itraconazole or ketoconazole and macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin .

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.