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Detrol (Tolterodine Tartrate)

What is Detrol (Tolterodine Tartrate) ?

Detrol is an oral medication indicated for an overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, urinary urgency, and frequency. It is composed of the active ingredient tolterodine tartrate and belongs to the antimuscarinics subtype under the anticholinergics class. The lack of bladder muscle control brings about an overactive bladder. This muscle would contract too often, typically displaying symptoms of leakage, urgent need to urinate, and frequent need to urinate. Urinary incontinence can occur in both men and women but is more common in women. Women tend to suffer from this condition given possible childbirth, pregnancy, menopause, and their overall urinary tract structure. Leaking, wetting incidents, and increased urge to urinate can affect one’s quality of life, including self-esteem and social life.

How does it work?

Anticholinergics work by interfering with the mechanism of action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter known as a chemical messenger. These classes of drugs work on the parasympathetic nervous system by blocking acetylcholine from its receptor. This mechanism is responsible for the involuntary movement of smooth muscles like those in the urinary tract. Antimuscarinic agents are one of the subtypes of this class. The antimuscarinic medication works by inhibiting the muscarinic receptors, decreasing the motility of the smooth muscle cells present in the urinary tract. It also increases the tone of the sphincters, resulting in increased urination control.

Tolterodine act as a muscarinic receptor antagonist, helping control urination, reducing leaking and the urgency to urinate frequently. The active ingredient in Detrol will help your bladder hold more urine and reduce the urgency and frequency of your bathroom visits.


Detrol is available in the following dosages:

  • 1mg
  • 2mg

The initial dose of Detrol is 2mg twice a day. This dose may be lowered to 1mg twice a day based on the response and tolerability of the patient.

Patients with reduced renal or hepatic function may be given 1mg twice daily. In addition, this dose may be suggested to patients taking other drugs that may increase plasma concentrations of the active ingredient in Detrol.

How to take it?

Swallow the tablets, do not chew or suck on them.

Take Detrol exactly as your doctor suggests.

Take Detrol with water, with or without food.

If you take Detrol twice daily, leave 12 hours in between doses.

Children may be prescribed Detrol for nocturnal enuresis and overactive bladder. Children can be prescribed between 1mg to 4mg daily. The usual recommended dose for bedwetting is 1mg before bedtime. This can be increased to 2mg twice daily, depending on their response. Your doctor will assess and prescribe this medication after evaluation and as needed.

How to store Detrol?

Store Detrol away from moisture or heat, keep at room temperature and in its original container. Keep Detrol out of reach of children.


Taking an extra dose is unlikely to harm you. However, you may still experience adverse effects such as dry mouth and headaches.

If you take two or more extra doses of Detrol, you may experience hallucinations, restlessness, dilated pupils, inability to urinate, fastened heartbeat, or breathing problems. Contact the poison control center or call 911 for immediate medical assistance if this is the case.

Side Effects

An allergic reaction to the active ingredient in Detrol or any of its excipients displays as swollen face, lips, throat, and tongue. You can also experience a skin rash, hives, blistered or peeling skin, wheezing, and chest tightness. If this occurs, seek immediate medical attention.

Common Side Effects

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Stomach Pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Trapped wind
  • Pain during urination or the inability to empty your bladder

Serious Side Effects

  • Stomach pain after eating that won’t go away, followed by an increased urge to empty your bowels and change in your stool consistency. These could be signs of fecal impaction.
  • Signs of urinary retention are associated with a struggle to empty your bladder or to start urinating
  • Fever and chills
  • Burning sensation when urinating and back pain, indicating a urinary tract infection
  • Cloudy or blood urine
  • Swollen ankles and legs also referred to as edema
  • Signs of cardiac arrhythmia include chest pain and change in your heart rhythm

If you started taking Detrol recently, or have just been prescribed this treatment, avoid operating machinery or driving until you know how this medication will affect you.

Speak to your doctor immediately if you experience any of the above side effects.

Warnings & Precautions

Detrol is to be used with caution in adults with:

  • Kidney or liver impairment
  • Myasthenia gravis- A condition causing muscle weakness
  • Complications of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Toxic megacolon
  • Severe constipation
  • Heart failure, slow or irregular heartbeats, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, or long QT syndrome
  • Hiatus hernia
  • Nerve damage affects blood pressure, sweating, digestion and bowel movements, urination, and heart rate. This is also referred to as autonomic neuropathy.
  • Digestive trouble like acid reflux and heartburn

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, inform your doctor before starting Detrol. Your doctor will decide if Detrol is right for you.

Detrol is not recommended for breastfeeding women; however, some may still need it. The active ingredient in Detrol can be passed on to your baby through breast milk; however, amounts are thought to be small. Speak to your doctor if you are nursing and on Detrol. In addition, you may need to monitor your baby for possible side effects like constipation, less urination, and colic. If you notice any of these effects or lack of weight gain in your baby, speak to your midwife, doctor, or pediatrician.

Let your doctor know of any medicine you take and if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above.

Drug Interactions

Detrol may interact with the following medications:

  • Macrolide antibiotics like erythromycin and clarithromycin-Used to treat particular bacterial infections like bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Antifungals like ketoconazole and itraconazole- Used to treat certain fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot
  • Medicines used to treat HIV
  • Vinblastine- a chemotherapy drug used to treat certain types of cancer like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bladder, and testicular cancer
  • Cyclosporine- An immunosuppressant used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis
  • Metoclopramide- An Antiemetic medication used to help with digesting food and feeling of sickness
  • Amiodarone, Sotalol, Quinidine, Procainamide- Used to treat irregular heart beats
  • Other medication that works similarly to tolterodine like amantadine

Herbal remedies and over-the-counter medicines may interact with Detrol. You must inform your doctor if you take any other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal remedies.


Do not take Detrol if you have an allergy to the active ingredient tolterodine or its excipients.

Do not take Detrol if:

  • You are allergic to fesoterodine. This medication is also indicated for urinary incontinence.
  • You have trouble voiding your bladder. This is also known as urinary retention.
  • You have trouble emptying your stomach. This is often referred to as gastric retention.
  • You suffer from a condition called ‘’ uncontrolled narrow-angle glaucoma.’’

Frequently Asked Questions

Detrol may take up to 4 weeks to start working. If you do not notice an improvement after 1 to 2 weeks, it is suggested that you speak to your doctor.

Your doctor may call you in their clinic after 2 to 3 months on Detrol. First, they will check that the medication is still working and that this is an adequate treatment for you. After that, they may review your condition every 6 to 12 months and determine if the treatment is still necessary.

Take your forgotten dose of Detrol as soon as you are aware. However, if your next dose is almost due, skip the missed one and continue the next dose as usual. Do double the next dose to make up for the missed one. If you forget doses often, try setting the alarm to remind you. Sticking to the exact times daily can help you remember to take your dose.

Your doctor will regulate the duration of your treatment. You may need to take Detrol for a long time. After four weeks, you will need to visit your doctor to check if this medication is helping your symptoms. Do not stop taking Detrol without first consulting your doctor.

Try to avoid drinking alcohol when on Detrol, as alcohol and Detrol together may make you feel sleepy and fatigued. Alcohol can also increase the times you need to urinate at night.

You can eat normally while on Detrol. However, limit your caffeine-containing drinks like tea, coffee, or certain types of sodas.

If Detrol makes you sick, causing vomiting or diarrhea, your contraceptive method may not be that effective. Otherwise, Detrol does not interfere with contraceptive pills.

No evidence suggests Detrol affects fertility in women or men. However, consult your doctor if you are planning to get pregnant and need to take Detrol.

Drink loads of water to avoid dehydration if you have diarrhea. Eat more high fiber-rich foods. This includes fruit and vegetables. Exercising regularly also helps with motility. Try to incorporate daily walks or runs.

Avoid eating foods that can cause gas, like lentils, peas, and beans. Try to reduce the food portions and have more frequent meals. Chew your food and eat slowly. Incorporate regular physical activity.

Consult your pharmacist to see if they can recommend hydrating eye drops. You may need to start wearing glasses while on this medication to help with your dry eyes.

If you experience blurred vision, avoid driving and speak to your doctor about this. Your vision should be restored after your last dose. If this is not the case, do not take your next dose and speak to your doctor.

Chewing sugar-free gum or sweets can help with this. Using hydrating toothpaste, mouthwash, or mouth spray can help with this. Drink plenty of water frequently. Dry mouth can cause tooth decay, fungal infections, or interfere with oro-soluble medications such as those used in cases of angina. Consult your physician if this does not resolve.

Detrol may make you dizzy. Do not drive, cycle, use machinery or tools, if you feel dizzy. Avoid consuming alcohol as this can worsen your condition. Talk to your doctor if this persists.

Take Detrol exactly as suggested by your doctor. Try sticking to the same time every day. You can take Detrol with or without food, with a glass of water

Your doctor will assess your symptoms and condition and prescribe the best treatment. Your doctor may suggest more than one drug to help with urinary incontinence. In addition, there are other medications belonging to the same class as Detrol, and you may be given other drugs. For example, if antimuscarinics are not adequate for you, your doctor will opt for different treatments.

You may gain some weight when you take Detrol. If you notice changes in your weight after starting Detrol, speak to your doctor.

The active ingredient in Detrol is safe to be taken with painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Consult your physician if you notice any adverse effects when taking both medications together.