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Oxytrol skin patch

A New Treatment Of The Overactive Bladder

 By Dr. Gifford Jones

Have you ever heard of “Toilet Mapping”? The best description of this comes from a patient of mine who asked, “Do you know how to get to know a city well?” I replied,

“I guess when you’ve lived there a number of years”. “No” she responded, “It’s when you know where all the bathrooms are located.”.

This patient like millions of others suffered from overactive bladder (OAB). And she knew where every washroom was located in downtown Toronto. Now, a novel new skin patch has helped her with this common problem.

OAB has been called the “closet disorder”. The reason is it’s socially acceptable to discuss cholesterol at a dinner party. But who wants to admit that they often wet themselves or come close to doing so? Yet an estimated 65 percent of the population eventually suffer from OAB, with females outnumbering males three to one. And only those who live with this problem understand that “when you’ve got to go you’ve go to go.”

There are several misconceptions about loss of bladder control. Some believe that OAB is a part of aging and there’s no effective treatment. Others assume that drugs are ineffective and surgery is required. And because of this lack of understanding 50 percent of OAB patients never seek treatment.

What happens is that patients with OAB try to live with this problem and practice “defensive voiding”. They use every opportunity to void and never venture far without having a toilet map of their destination.

The overactive bladder is often due to obesity, diabetes, difficult pregnancies or high impact physical activity. And some doctors believe a lack of the female hormone, estrogen, is partly responsible.

OAB has a profound effect on quality of life. It triggers stress, anger, decreased self-esteem and restricts physical activity. But its main impact is often social isolation for fear of incontinence and odour. Constant wetness can also cause skin irritation and infection.

What studies are carried out on a patient depends on the cause and degree of OAB. Urinary cultures must be done to rule out urinary infection. A cytoscopy may be needed to examine the inside of the bladder, or bladder function studies to determine pressures in the urethra, the tube that carries urine to the outside.

The treatment of an overactive bladder depends on severity. For instance, lifestyle changes such as diet, increased exercise, quitting smoking or limiting fluid intake are enough to help some people. And eliminating bladder irritants such as caffeine and alcohol can decrease the need for frequent voiding.

Several types of medication, such as anticholinergic drugs, have been available for many years. This medication helps to relax the nervous and muscular mechanism of the bladder, decreasing the frequency and intensity of bladder contractions.

These oral anti-spasm drugs, taken once or twice a day, provide help for seven out of ten patients who notice improvement of symptoms in a few weeks. Unfortunately anticholinergic drugs also cause annoying symptoms such as dry mouth, constipation and headache. The result is that many patients stop taking this medication.

Oxytrol, a new skin patch, circumvents these side effects in two ways. Since Oxytrol is absorbed through the skin it avoids the breakdown of the drug in the bowel and liver. And since the patch delivers a steady daily dose of 3.9 milligrams of Oxybutin this avoids the highs and lows of oral medication.

This thin, clear transparent patch is placed on the stomach, buttocks or thighs twice a week. And to avoid skin irritation the patch is placed on a new site each time it is applied.

Both oral and patch anti-spasm drugs aren’t for everyone. Patients who have urinary retention, glaucoma, liver or kidney disease or gastroesophageal reflux should not take this class of medication.

For others Oxytrol will help to stop toilet mapping and defensive voiding. But it can only do so if those who experience sudden uncontrollable urges to urinate, voiding 8 X a day, wetting accidents, and who avoid social situations or travel, come out of the closet and seek help from their doctor.

Consumers who want more information can contact The Canadian Continence Foundation at http://www.continence-fdn.ca/news.htm or call the toll free number 1-800-265-9575

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Dr. Gifford Jones  Bio
Dr. Gifford Jones Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones

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