Ditropan XL (Oxybutynin) - Oral

What Is Ditropan XL?

Ditropan XL (oxybutynin) is an orally prescribed extended-release (ER) medication that is primarily used to treat symptoms of overactive bladder, including urge incontinence (loss of bladder control), urgency, and frequency. Additionally, for children 6 and older, Ditropan XL is used to treat detrusor overactivity associated with a neurological condition, such as spina bifida.

The primary ingredient in Ditropan XL, oxybutynin, is classified as an antispasmodic and anticholinergic agent. Anticholinergics/antispasmodic agents are a category of drugs that are used to relieve cramps or spasms of the stomach, intestines, and bladder.

Specifically, anticholinergics are drugs that block the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine transports signals between cells that can affect bodily functions. Anticholinergics block acetylcholine from causing involuntary muscle movements in the lungs, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, urinary tract, and other parts of the body.

In comparison, antispasmodics are medications that can help control some symptoms that arise from the gut (intestines). They work by attaching to muscle receptors, stopping the chemicals from "docking" to make the muscle contract.

As a result, oxybutynin works to control bladder function by relaxing the smooth muscles in the bladder. Once the smooth muscles of the bladder are relaxed, Ditropan XL can increase bladder capacity, reduce the frequency of unwanted contractions of the bladder, and slow the initial desire to urinate, thus decreasing the urgency and frequency of involuntary and voluntary urination.

It should be noted that oxybutynin as a generically-marketed product is available through a prescription.

This article will focus solely on Ditropan XL as an oral medication.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Oxybutynin

Brand Name(s): Ditropan XL

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral

Therapeutic Classification: Urinary antispasmodic

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Oxybutynin chloride

Dosage Form(s): XL tablets, IR tablets

What Is Ditropan XL Used For?

Ditropan XL is Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for the treatment of an overactive bladder that corresponds with symptoms of urge urinary incontinence, urgency, and frequency.

An overactive bladder is a condition where the bladder squeezes urine out at the wrong time. You may have an overactive bladder if you have two or more of these symptoms:

  • You urinate eight or more times a day or two or more times at night.
  • You have the sudden, strong need to urinate immediately.
  • You leak urine after a sudden, strong urge to urinate.

In comparison, urinary incontinence is defined as a loss of bladder control. Incontinence is caused by either nerve problems, too much fluid, or too much caffeine. However, quite often, the cause is unknown.

An overactive bladder, in addition to a lack of bladder control, is a common ailment among older adults, present in both men and women. Notably, overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome, according to one study, can greatly impact a person's ability to conduct daily activities and has an estimated prevalence of 16.5% within the United States (U.S.). What's more, many people do not seek medical help.

Additionally, while Ditropan XL is mainly for adults, it can also be used to treat children 6 or older with bladder overactivity symptoms that are associated with neurological conditions, such as spina bifida (a birth defect where a developing baby's spinal cord fails to develop properly).

Children born with spina bifida are almost always found to have a neurogenic bladder. This is because the nerves in the spinal cord that control the bladder did not form properly. This means that the bladder will have trouble storing urine in the bladder, emptying the bladder, or both.

How to Take Ditropan XL

You should take this medication as directed by your healthcare provider. The XL tablet must be swallowed whole. Do not crush, break, or chew it; try to take this medicine at the same time each day, according to your healthcare provider's instructions.

The ER tablet is usually taken once a day with or without food.

When you start this medication, your healthcare provider may need to adjust your dose in 5-milligram increments to determine which dosage works best for you.

After taking this medicine, you may see a part of the tablet or tablet shell pass into your stools. If this happens, do not be alarmed, this is normal so you have nothing to worry about.

This medication may cause drowsiness or blurred vision, so you should avoid activities requiring mental alertness or coordination until you know how Ditropan XL will affect you. Additionally, drinking alcohol while consuming oxybutynin may enhance these effects.

Storage

Store this medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Do not store in a bathroom. Additionally, make sure to keep out of reach of children and pets.

Refilling and traveling with this medication carries no special instructions. Ask your healthcare provider to request a refill if you need more medication.

How Long Does Ditropan XL Take to Work?

Following the first dosage, Ditropan XL begins to take a growing effect within four to six hours, where its effects are then maintained for up to 24 hours.

What Are the Side Effects of Ditropan XL?

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 healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects associated with Ditropan XL include:

Severe Side Effects

Call 911 if your side effects feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects can include the following:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction to Ditropan XL and/or any of its ingredients: Itching or urticaria (hives), swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Angioedema 
  • Decreased sweating/heat prostration (overheating of the body when Ditropan XL is taken in hot environments)

Report Side Effects

Ditropan XL 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 healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program online or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Ditropan XL Should I Take?

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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 treatment of bladder problems:
    • For oral dosage form (extended-release tablets):
      • Adults—At first, 5 or 10 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 30 mg per day.
      • Children 6 years of age and older—At first, 5 mg once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 20 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 6 years of age—Use is not recommended.
    • For oral dosage forms (syrup or tablets):
      • Adults and children 12 years of age and older—5 milligrams (mg) two or three times a day.
      • Children 5 to 12 years of age—5 mg two or three times a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 15 mg per day.
      • Children younger than 5 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

Users should be aware of the following before beginning Ditropan XL:

Allergic reactions: If you are allergic to oxybutynin, or any of the active ingredients in Ditropan XL, you should avoid use. Speak with your healthcare provider to find alternative methods to treat OBS or urinary incontinence.

Pregnancy: There are no adequate and well-controlled studies using Ditropan XL in pregnant people. Ditropan XL should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs the risk to the parent and fetus.

People who become pregnant during Ditropan XL treatment are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider to be advised on the next steps in treatment. 

Breastfeeding: It is not known whether oxybutynin is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be used when Ditropan XL is administered to a nursing person. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine if it is safe to breastfeed while taking Ditropan XL.

Children: The safety and efficacy of Ditropan XL were studied in 60 children in a 24-week, open-label, non-randomized trial. In this study, people were 6 to 15 years old, all had symptoms of detrusor overactivity in combination with a neurological condition, and all were current users of oxybutynin.

Therefore, the safety and efficacy of Ditropan XL in children under 6 have not been studied enough to warrant FDA approval.

Older adults: The rate and severity of anticholinergic effects reported by people under 65 and those older than 65 were similar. Therefore, no standard dosing adjustments are typically needed based on age.

Missed Dose

If you miss your dose of Ditropan XL, take the dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take the regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Ditropan XL?

Agitation, confusion, and hallucinations may develop with moderate poisoning from excessive Ditropan XL use.

Moreover, severe effects may include agitated delirium, psychosis, hallucinations, seizures, hyperthermia (heat-related illnesses), and coma.

If an overdose of Ditropan XL or similar anticholinergic medications is suspected, seek medical attention immediately. 

What Happens If I Overdose on Ditropan XL?

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

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

Precautions

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

This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called angioedema. Angioedema may be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you or your child have a rash, itching, a large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs, trouble breathing, or chest tightness while you are using this medicine.

Oxybutynin may cause anxiety, confusion, irritability, sleepiness or unusual drowsiness, or hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there). These symptoms are more likely to occur when you begin taking this medicine, or when the dose is increased. If you or your child have these symptoms, tell your doctor right away.

This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that slow down the nervous system, possibly causing drowsiness). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, other allergies, or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you or your child are using this medicine.

This medicine may cause your eyes to become more sensitive to light than they are normally. Wearing sunglasses and avoiding too much exposure to bright light may help lessen the discomfort.

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.

Oxybutynin may make you sweat less, causing your body temperature to increase. Use extra care not to become overheated during exercise or hot weather while you or your child are taking this medicine, since overheating may result in heat stroke. Also, hot baths or saunas may make you feel dizzy or faint while you or your child are taking this medicine.

Your mouth, nose, and throat may feel very dry while you or your child are taking this medicine. 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 Ditropan XL?

You should consult with your healthcare provider before taking Ditropan XL if you have any of the following conditions, as Ditropan XL may exasperate or make these conditions worse:

You should not take Ditropan XL if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Known allergic reaction to oxybutynin chloride or to any component of the product
  • Known or at risk for gastric retention or other severe decreased gastrointestinal motility conditions
  • Known or at risk for uncontrolled narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Known or at risk for urinary retention

What Other Medications May Interact With Ditropan XL?

Taking oxybutynin with other anticholinergic medications can increase your chances of developing dry mouth, constipation, drowsiness, or other severe anticholinergic-like side effects.

Please talk with your healthcare provider if you are taking any of the following medications because these medications can increase the concentration of oxybutynin in your body:

What Medications Are Similar?

Other anticholinergic medications that treat overactive bladder and urinary urgency symptoms include:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Ditropan XL used for?

    Ditropan XL is a prescription-only ER oral medication used to treat overactive bladder symptoms, including urge urinary incontinence, urgency, and frequency.

  • How does Ditropan XL work?

    Ditropan XL is an antispasmodic and anticholinergic agent that works to control bladder function by relaxing the smooth muscles in the bladder.

  • After taking Ditropan XL, what should I do if I see a part of a tablet or tablet shell in my stools?

    Nothing, this is normal. There is no need to be alarmed. Your body has still absorbed the medication.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Ditropan XL?

This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy, or cause vision problems. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

This medicine may also make you sweat less. This can cause your body to become too hot. It is important to take precautions if you exercise strenuously or are outside in hot weather. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

While taking this Ditropan XL, your healthcare provider will check your progress and the effects of this medicine at regular visits so be sure to keep all of your appointments.

Medical Disclaimer

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

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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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