What is the role of anticholinergic agents in the management of enuresis?

Updated: Mar 26, 2020
  • Author: Wm Lane M Robson, MA, MD, FRCP, FRCP(Glasg); Chief Editor: Marc Cendron, MD  more...
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An anticholinergic medication might be helpful in some patients, especially those with overactive bladder, dysfunctional voiding, or neurogenic bladder. These medications reduce uninhibited detrusor contractions, increase the threshold volume at which an uninhibited detrusor contraction occurs, and enlarge the functional bladder capacity.

Oxybutynin chloride and tolterodine are commonly prescribed in this setting. Oxybutynin chloride also has antispasmodic and analgesic properties. Anticholinergic adverse effects include dry mouth, blurred vision, facial flushing, constipation, poor bladder emptying, and mood changes. Constipation as an adverse event is especially problematic in that it might increase the risk for wetting.

Anticholinergic medications should not be administered during a fever, because an anticholinergic effect is a decrease in sweating. Similarly, they should be used with caution in children who exercise or play strenuously, especially on hot days.

Oxybutynin is given in a dose of 2.5-5 mg administered at bedtime. A long-acting preparation is available but has not been approved for use in children. Tolterodine is not approved for use in children younger than 12 years. Flavoxate, a urinary spasmolytic, might be helpful in some patients with overactive bladder and dysfunctional voiding but is approved only for children older than 12 years.

The combination of desmopressin acetate and oxybutynin chloride might be efficacious in children with overactive bladder or dysfunctional voiding who respond to anticholinergic therapy with improved daytime symptoms but who continue to wet at night. Long-acting preparations of oxybutynin may be more efficacious for combined use with desmopressin.

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