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Ditropan (oxybutynin) is an anticholinergic medication primarily used to help patients manage symptoms of overactive bladder. It is sometimes used to help patients with symptoms of kidney stones, and rarely to help treat hyperhidrosis (abnormal sweating).

For overactive bladder, Ditropan works by easing spasms in the bladder. This allows the bladder to retain more urine and eases symptoms of:

  • Urgent urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Incontinence
  • Nighttime incontinence
  • Frequent waking up to urinate

Though effective, Ditropan is not a cure. If other measures are not taken, symptoms will likely return when treatment ends.

Ditropan can be used in some scenarios in children age 5 and up. Both children and the elderly will need modified dosing.

Treating Adults

Overactive bladder predominantly effects older adults, but does sometimes crop up in younger patients. Regardless of age, it's important that the condition be diagnosed by a doctor prior to taking Ditropan; if it is not the result of bladder spasms, the medication is unlikely to provide benefit.

In otherwise healthy adults treatment typically consists of:

  • Take 5 mg two or three times per day (total of 10 to 15 mg per day).
  • Rarely some patients will be advised to increase to 5 mg taken four times per day (20 mg total).
  • Do not exceed 5 mg four times per day (20 mg total).

Elderly patients may be started on 2.5 mg two or three times per day. This can be increased after a week or two if no adverse effects develop.

Duration of treatment is variable. Side effects become an increasing concern the longer this medication is taken, and some patients will be advised to supplement vitamins if taken long term. Regular doctor checkups are important so a doctor can monitor for developing side effects.

On the other hand, if no other measures are taken to address overactive bladder, symptoms will likely return when treatment ends. There are numerous simple exercises patients can do to help improve bladder control, such as pelvic floor training or bladder retraining. There is an abundance of information about these methods on the internet. They are not always effective, however.

Surgery is also an option for some patients, though it is costly, invasive, and may lead to side effects of its own. Some patients will ultimately be faced with the choice between surgery or long-term treatment with Ditropan or a similar medication; this should be discussed carefully with a doctor.

Treating Children

A child should absolutely be diagnosed by a doctor before being given Ditropan, especially those around age 5 to 7. Odds of the condition being caused by bladder spasms are relatively low in children, and, again, this medication will not provide benefit if bladder spasms are not present.

It is a problem in some young children, however. In those cases:

  • Administer 5 mg two times per day (total 10 mg).
  • Rarely a child, usually an older child, will be advised to take 5 mg three times per day (total 15 mg).
  • Do not administer more than 5 mg three times per day (total 15 mg).

Parents may help children with some bladder exercises, though---particularly with young children---this can be difficult. Surgery is rarely a viable option in such young candidates either. Parents will need to discuss the particular issues the child faces with a doctor, and do their best to address them.

The good news is overactive bladder symptoms are rarely permanent in children, usually resolving themselves in a few weeks or months. If longer lasting, between medication and parental involvement in bladder training most children will eventually be fine.

Other Uses

Other uses of this medication are largely individualized, though maximum daily dosage should not exceed those above, and is often lower. In addition to doing their own research, patients should find a doctor familiar with using Ditropan to treat the particular condition.

Side Effects


Used as directed, side effects from Ditropan are relatively rare and not cause for concern unless they become severe enough to be disruptive. About 5 percent of patients report:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing

More rare, but also more concerning, side effects include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Painful urination
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced sweating
  • Vision changes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion

A doctor should be consulted if the above are experienced. If unable to consult a doctor quickly, Ditropan use should stop until one can be consulted.

In large doses, too much Ditropan can be fatal. If large or unknown quantities are taken seek emergency medical attention.


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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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