Tolterodine tartrate is a medication that is used in the treatment of conditions affecting control of urination. It belongs to a group of drugs known as antimuscarinics. The medication may help prevent overactive bladder, in which a person feels as if he or she has to constantly urinate, or more severe urinary control conditions, in which a person involuntarily expels urine.
Antimuscarinic medications like tolterodine tartrate work at treating the symptoms of frequent or uncontrollable urination by reducing contractions in the bladder. Once the bladder is filled with urine, it begins to stretch slightly. The stretching of the bladder sends a message to the central nervous system that the bladder needs to be emptied. The nervous system responds by causing the bladder to contract, which makes a person feel the sensation of needing to urinate. By taking medications that reduce bladder contractions, a person may not feel the need to empty their bladder as often.
Tolterodine tartrate is generally available in two forms: capsule or tablet. The capsule form of the medication is extended-release, meaning the active ingredients are slowly released into the body over a longer period of time; therefore, it is usually swallowed whole once per day. Breaking, crushing, or splitting the extended-release tablets may result in the active ingredients releasing at the incorrect rate into the body, which may put a person at risk of either the medication not working or having a dangerous overabundance of the active ingredients in the bloodstream. The tablet form of the medication is typically taken orally twice daily.
The medication may also come with the risk of some side effects. The most common side effects tend to include nausea, constipation, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, and dryness of the mouth and eyes; however, these effects generally are not considered serious enough to require medical attention unless they worsen over time. Although it is often rare, serious complications from the medication may occur which require immediate medical attention. These include tightness or pain in the chest, sudden rash, or trouble urinating.
Tolterodine tartrate may not be a safe choice for some patients. People with kidney conditions may be advised to either not take the medication or to take a lower dosage to prevent complications with kidney function. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are usually recommended to not take the medication since the effects of the medication on infants are not known. Those with liver disease, gastrointestinal conditions, or glaucoma may also experience complications when taking the medication and may require a smaller dosage or an alterative treatment.