Tell me if this sounds familiar: You leak whenever you sneeze or cough. You can’t take a car ride without planning your next bathroom stop. Your sleep is constantly interrupted by your unpredictable bladder. Your life revolves around bathroom breaks, and you always carry spare clothes with you, just in case.
Bladder problems are embarrassing, inconvenient, and no way to live. Yet they are a reality for millions of people.
If this is your reality, you may have considered a bladder control medication. There are enough of them available, even over-the-counter, so you don’t have to worry about a prescription.
However, before you go down this path, there’s something else you should know first…
The side-effects of your overactive bladder medication could be far, far worse than the problem it’s trying to fix.
Bladder medications have been linked to a whole host of problems, but the one that’s been getting the most attention recently is their connection to dementia. The problem is caused by the anticholinergic drugs used in many overactive bladder products. They work by altering a specific neurotransmitter in the brain and that helps slow the bladder contractions that cause urgency and embarrassing accidents. However, while taking these drugs may help with bladder control, that control comes at a steep price.
Not only do anticholinergic drugs slow bladder impulses, they slow brain impulses as well, inhibiting cognitive function, and disrupting the brain’s ability to store memories. According to one study, these medications could cause someone’s mental capacity to age by about ten full years. In looking at side effects for one over-the-counter bladder control medicine, confusion, drowsiness, and dizziness are listed as common side effects. Agitation, anxiety, and paranoia are recognized side effects, as well.
And remember, this is just one over-the-counter bladder control medication.
As it turns out, anticholinergic drugs are also used in over-the-counter sleep aids, allergy tablets, and other common medications. They’re also used in prescription medications, so it’s entirely possible for you to be taking several different forms of anticholinergic drugs without ever knowing it! This can create an even bigger problem, since the more you take, the more of a negative impact these anticholinergic drugs can have on your mental capacity and cognitive function.
So what can you do?
First and foremost, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Ask about all the medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter ones, to find out which might include anticholinergic drugs. Then ask about alternatives.
New research indicates that many people can find relief from an overactive bladder with reasonable lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, and herbal supplements. Limiting caffeinated beverages can minimize urges, and help control frequency. Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor, and reduce leaks. Herbs like horsetail, crateva nurvala and lindera root can all help improve bladder control without the side effects of anticholinergic drugs.
You don’t have to be a slave to your bladder, but you shouldn’t have to give up your mental health for your physical health, either! Now that you know there’s an issue, you can find a healthy solution that’s right for you.