Detrol (Tolterodine) – Oral

What Is Detrol?

Detrol (tolterodine) is a pill used to treat a condition called overactive bladder (OAB). The generic name for Detrol is tolterodine. It belongs to a class of drugs called muscarinic receptor antagonists (MRAs). These drugs work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that regulates urinary functioning. As a result, it helps control symptoms like frequent urination and urgency.

Detrol is a prescription product, so you can’t purchase it over the counter. You’ll receive a prescription from your healthcare provider and get the medication from your pharmacy.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Tolterodine

Brand Name(s): Detrol, Detrol LA

Administration Route(s): Oral

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Urinary antispasmodic

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Tolterodine

Dosage Form(s): Tablet, extended-release capsule

What Is Detrol Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Detrolto to treat overactive bladder (OAB). People with OAB may need to urinate more urgently and more often than usual. They may struggle with bedwetting and urine leakage, which can limit daily activities and affect quality of life.

Detrol (Tolterodine) Drug Information - Urinary tract on a woman

Verywell / Dennis Madamba

How to Take Detrol

Detrol comes in two different formulations: immediate release (Detrol), which is a tablet, and extended-release (Detrol LA), which is a capsule. Try to take your medication at the same time each day.

Immediate-Release Tablet

Immediate-release Detrol is taken twice a day because it does not stay in your system as long as the extended-release version. Take it with water and with or without food. If you have trouble swallowing pills, you can crush the tablet using a pill crusher or crush it in a bowl with a spoon and mix it with a small amount of applesauce, juice, or water. Just make sure you finish the food or liquid containing the Detrol to get the full dose.

Take immediate release Detrol twice a day in the morning and evening.

Extended-Release Capsule

The brand name for extended-release tolterodine is Detrol LA. It is a capsule you will only take once daily because it continues to work in your system all day. These capsules must be swallowed whole. Unlike the immediate-release tablet, the capsule should not be opened, crushed, or mixed with food.

Storage

Store Detrol at room temperature (between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the original container with the lid on, out of reach of children and pets. Avoid storing your pill bottle in an area with a lot of heat and moisture, like the bathroom.

Off-Label Uses

In addition to treating OAB, Detrol may be prescribed off-label for symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When a drug is prescribed for purposes not listed on the product label, it is known as off-label use.

BPH is a common condition in men over 50 and causes bladder symptoms. Urgency, frequency, and nighttime urination are common, as is having a weak urine stream and having to strain to urinate.

Drugs called alpha-blockers are commonly used to treat BPH. Still, some research suggests that using muscarinic receptor antagonists like Detrol in addition to alpha-blockers may improve symptoms more than alpha-blockers alone.

How Long Does Detrol Take to Work?

While you could notice an improvement much sooner, it may take Detrol around five to eight weeks to reach its full capability and improve your symptoms. Let your healthcare provider know if you don’t notice any improvement in the first two weeks.

What Are the Side Effects of Detrol?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Due to how Detrol works, it can cause some side effects. If you notice any side effects that you think are severe or do not go away, notify your healthcare provider.

Common side effects of Detrol include:

  • Dry mouth: This is one of the most common side effects of Detrol and occurs because of the muscarinic mechanism of action of the drug. In addition to bladder and urinary functioning, Detrol affects the amount of saliva in your mouth, and less saliva can lead to a dry mouth.
  • Headache: Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while on this drug. Mild dryness or dehydration can lead to a headache.
  • Constipation: Detrol is a drug that can dry out different systems in your body. Less water in your digestive tract means less water in your stool, which can cause harder stools and constipation.
  • Xerophthalmia (dry eye): Your vision is another part of your body that can be affected by the drying effects of Detrol.
  • Stomach pain

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Vision changes: While you may have dry or blurry eyes as a common side effect of Detrol, you should not experience changes in your vision.
  • Severe abdominal or back pain: This may be a sign of damage to your kidneys.
  • Trouble urinating: You may need a lower dose of this medication. If the problem continues, something else may be wrong.

Long-Term Side Effects

Detrol is generally safe and effective when taken for long periods to treat OAB. Long-term adverse effects do not seem to carry a higher risk or probability than the short-term effects listed above.

Report Side Effects

Detrol may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Detrol Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For bladder problems:
    • For oral dosage form (tablets):
      • Adults—At first, 2 milligrams (mg) two times a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose if needed.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For oral dosage form (extended-release capsules):
      • Adults—4 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose if needed.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking immediate-release Detrol and experiencing dry mouth, dry eye, constipation, or headache. They may switch you to once-daily dosing of Detrol LA, as it is associated with fewer and less severe side effects than the immediate-release formulation.

Detrol is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women unless the benefits of use outweigh any potential risk to the baby. Detrol did show up in the milk of mice in clinical trials. You may want to talk with your healthcare provider about different treatment options or lifestyle changes for controlling OAB if you take Detrol and are planning to become pregnant.

If your kidneys or liver don’t work normally, you will start Detrol at a lower dose. Impaired kidney or liver function can lead to less tolterodine being removed from your system. You don’t need as much in the first place to get the same effect as someone whose kidneys or liver might work more efficiently.

No differences in safety were observed between people older than age 64 and younger people.

Missed Dose

If you forget to take a dose of Detrol, you can take it as soon as you remember. If you are closer to your next dose than the dose you missed, go ahead and skip the missed dose and wait for your next scheduled one. For example, if you normally take Detrol at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and you remember at 5 p.m. that you forgot your morning dose, wait and take your next dose that night at 8 p.m. Do not double up doses to make up for missed ones.

If you take Detrol LA and realize you forgot a dose the same day, you can go ahead and take it. Do not double up doses or take two doses of Detrol LA on the same day.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Detrol?

If you take Detrol as directed, you shouldn’t be too concerned about overdosing. If you accidentally double up doses, be aware that you may experience dry eyes, dry mouth, and, potentially, constipation. But overdosing from taking too many pills at one time is possible and dangerous.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Agitation or hallucinations
  • Irregular heartbeat

What Happens If I Overdose on Detrol?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Detrol, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Detrol, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it.

Tolterodine may cause serious types of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis and angioedema. Anaphylaxis and angioedema can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Stop using this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have a rash; itching; hoarseness; lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting; trouble breathing; trouble swallowing; or any swelling of your hands, face, mouth, or throat after using this medicine.

This medicine may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, or have blurred vision. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy, not alert, or not able to see well.

This medicine may cause dryness in the mouth, nose, and throat. For temporary relief of mouth dryness, use sugarless candy or gum, melt bits of ice in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute. However, if your mouth continues to feel dry for more than 2 weeks, check with your medical doctor or dentist. Continuing dryness of the mouth may increase the chance of dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease, and fungus infections.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Detrol?

You shouldn’t take Detrol if you have:

  • Urinary retention (trouble emptying all of the urine from your bladder)
  • Gastric retention (when your stomach takes too long to empty)
  • Uncontrolled narrow angle glaucoma (a sudden buildup of fluid and pressure in your eye)
  • A known allergy to Detrol

What Other Medications Interact With Detrol?

Some drugs may cause a buildup of Detrol in your system. These medications don’t necessarily need to be avoided, but your dose of Detrol may need to be decreased while you are taking them.

Don’t start the following medications without letting your healthcare provider know that you are also taking Detrol:

  • Biaxin (clarithromycin)
  • Nizoral (ketoconazole)
  • Norvir (ritonavir)
  • Sporanox (itraconazole)

Be aware that other anticholinergic drugs, such as Lomotil (diphenoyxlate and atropine), Cogentin (benzatropine), Bentyl (dicyclomine), and Pyrolate (glycopyrrolate), may cause increased side effects similar to those caused by Detrol, such as dry mouth, dry eyes, and constipation.

What Medications Are Similar to Detrol?

Other medications that are also muscarinic receptor antagonists, similar to Detrol, include:

  • Atrovent (ipratropium)
  • Bentyl (dicyclomine)
  • Cogentin (benztropine)
  • Ditropan (oxybutynin)
  • Enablex (darifenacin)
  • Lomotil (contains atropine, and other atropine products)
  • Cuvposa, Robinul (glycopyrrolate)
  • Sanctura (trospium)
  • Spiriva (tiotropium)
  • Symax (hyoscyamine)
  • Toviaz (fesoterodine)
  • Transderm Scop (scopolamine)
  • VESIcare (solifenacin)

This is not a list of drugs recommended to take with Detrol. In fact, you should not take these drugs together. Ask your pharmacist or a healthcare practitioner if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Detrol used for?

    Detrol is used to treat overactive bladder (OAB). OAB is a condition where patients may have to urinate very frequently or have an urge to urinate that is particularly intense.

  • How does Detrol work?

    Detrol is a muscarinic receptor antagonist. These receptors are located in different parts of the body, including the bladder, salivary glands, digestive system, and heart. Detrol works against these receptors in the bladder, which controls urinary symptoms associated with OAB.

  • What are the side effects of Detrol?

    The most common side effects you may experience with Detrol all are associated with the drying effects of the drug. These may include dry eyes, dry mouth, constipation, and headache. Stomach pain is also a common concern.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Detrol?

Dealing with symptoms of OAB can be incredibly frustrating, especially when those symptoms interrupt your daily activities like work, exercise, outings with friends, and vacations. OAB can really affect the quality of life. Know that you’re not alone and medications like Detrol can significantly improve symptoms.

While you may be hesitant to drink too much water due to your OAB symptoms, staying hydrated while taking Detrol is important to prevent problems like dry mouth, constipation, and headache. Other lifestyle interventions have been proven to be helpful in improving OAB symptoms, such as bladder training and pelvic floor exercises. These interventions combined with prescription medication can greatly improve the symptoms you may be experiencing as part of OAB.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Hutchinson A, Nesbitt A, Joshi A, Clubb A, Perera M. Overactive bladder syndrome: Management and treatment options. Aust J Gen Pract. 2020;49(9):593-598. doi: 10.31128/AJGP-11-19-5142 

  3. MedlinePlus. Tolterodine.

  4. Cao Y, Wang Y, Guo L, Yang X, Chen T, Niu H. A randomized, open label, comparative study of efficacy and safety of tolterodine combined with tamsulosin or doxazosin in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Med Sci Monit. 2016;22:1895-1902.doi: 10.12659/MSM.896283

  5. Clemett D, Jarvis B. Tolterodine. Drugs & Aging. 18, 277–304 (2001). https://doi.org/10.2165/00002512-200118040-00005

By Sara Hoffman, PharmD
Sara is a clinical pharmacist that believes everyone should understand their medications, and aims to achieve this through her writing.