Physicians perceive overactive bladder as a normal part of aging when in fact it is a treatable medical condition

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Nearly half of people with symptoms of overactive bladder had to initiate multiple conversations with their doctor before receiving a diagnosis or treatment, according to a national survey of more than 500 people with symptoms of overactive bladder. Furthermore, only 15 percent of those surveyed said their doctors had ever initiated a discussion about overactive bladder symptoms.

An estimated 33 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from overactive bladder, a medical condition associated with involuntary contractions of the bladder muscle. People with overactive bladder experience a strong, sudden urge to urinate, may use the bathroom eight or more times in 24 hours and may have wetting accidents.

“People who suffer from overactive bladder are really heroes,” said Nancy Muller, executive director of the National Association For Continence (NAFC). “Their commitment to leading healthy, active lives is marked by their willingness to risk embarrassment by bringing up a difficult subject with their physicians, sometimes more than once. “We need to proactively encourage dialogue about bladder health so that no one suffers from this condition in silence.”

People surveyed reported that they often try to manage symptoms with coping behaviors such as limiting fluid intake and going to the bathroom when they do not have to. These coping mechanisms are not effective ways to treat the condition. Nearly all primary care physicians recommended that their patients try behavioral modification, such as limiting intake of liquids. However, more than four out of five urologists believe that medication is the best first-line therapy for overactive bladder, most of whom noted that they see significant increases in quality of life measures after patients start on overactive bladder medication.

“The common perception is that overactive bladder is a normal part of aging. In fact, it is a treatable medical condition at any age,” said Dr. Deborah J. Lightner, assistant professor of urology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. “With effective treatment available, it’s incumbent upon physicians to make sure that we foster a safe and open environment that will encourage patients to share what they might consider embarrassing information about their health with us.”

Once overactive bladder is properly diagnosed, medications such as DETROL® LA (tolterodine tartrate extended release capsules) may be prescribed. DETROL LA works by helping to control involuntary contractions of the bladder muscles.

DETROL LA is a once-daily medication with proven efficacy for 24 hours to help control bladder contractions and reduce wetting accidents and voiding events. DETROL LA reduces the number and intensity of involuntary bladder muscle contractions, and also reduces the strong urinary urgency associated with overactive bladder.

Since its introduction in January 2001, DETROL LA has become the number one prescribed treatment for overactive bladder in the United States and has been prescribed for more than seven million patients worldwide.

DETROL LA is indicated for the treatment of overactive bladder with symptoms of urge incontinence, urgency, and frequency.

DETROL LA is contraindicated in patients with urinary retention, gastric retention, or uncontrolled narrow-angle glaucoma and in patients who have demonstrated hypersensitivity to the drug or its ingredients.

Patients with the following conditions should be treated with caution: renal impairment, bladder outflow obstruction, gastrointestinal obstructive disorders, controlled narrow-angle glaucoma, and significantly reduced hepatic function.

Dry mouth was the most frequently reported adverse event (DETROL LA 23 percent vs. placebo 8 percent); others (≥4 percent) included headache (DETROL LA 6% vs. placebo 4%), constipation (DETROL LA 6% vs. placebo 4%), and abdominal pain (DETROL LA 4% vs. placebo 2%).

The survey, sponsored by Pfizer Inc, was conducted by Richard Day Research using the Harris Interactive online panels, between March 31 and April 8, 2004. It included 506 physicians: 203 urologists, 202 Ob-Gyns, and 101 primary care physicians as well as 508 patient respondents. Random samples of this size have a ±4% margin of error.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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