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Understanding Bladder Control Medications (cont.)

Cholinergic drugs

This class of drugs includes bethanechol (Duvoid, Urecholine). (Cholinergic refers to nerve cells or fibers that use a certain type of chemical to send signals within the body.) Cholinergic drugs are used when the bladder is not emptied completely following urination. This problem is known as residual urine in the bladder.

  • How cholinergic drugs work: These drugs contract the bladder, thus allowing complete emptying.

  • Who should not use these medications: Individuals with the following conditions should not use cholinergic drugs:


  • Use: Cholinergic drugs are taken by mouth and on an empty stomach (that is, 1 hour before eating or 2 hours after).

  • Drug or food interactions: Cholinergic drugs may increase effects of other drugs that also have cholinergic effects, such as tacrine (Cognex), donepezil (Aricept), galanthamine (Reminyl), and rivastigmine (Exelon). Anticholinergic drugs (such as those listed above) will likely reduce the effect of cholinergic drugs.

  • Side effects: Cholinergic drugs may cause vomiting, diarrhea, watery eyes, headache, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, wheezing, and/or breathing problems. Contact a doctor if these occur.
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