Botox vs. bladder control pills: no perfect solution

Urinary incontinence or what is better known as overactive bladder is one of the curses of female life, especially after multiple pregnancies, after the menopause or as a result of obesity. Besides adult pampers, oral anticholinergic medication was the regularly prescribed help, until last year, when the FDA approved Botox injections. But, which is better, cheaper or with fewer side effects? To answer all those questions, a group of scientists from a range of universities, lead by Dr. Anthony G. Visco, of Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C. conducted a study of about 250 women. Their answer: there is no perfect solution.

Pills vs. botox

Urge incontinence is the type of incontinence which causes bladder to leak after a person has an urge to urinate. It is caused by the contractions of the bladder muscles, for no reason that is completely clear.

Women, especially older women, are much more likely to suffer from overactive bladder than men or younger women. This unpleasant condition is affecting 15.7 percent of American women and about half that number of men. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and the way female urinary tract is designed are responsible.

Anticholinergic medications work by controlling the bladder muscle through the nervous system. Common side effects are constipation and dry mouth and eyes.

Botox injections work by relaxing the overactive muscles. They are approved for the urge urinary incontinence treatment only if the cause of the overactive bladder is known, or if it is caused by a nervous system disorder, spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. The side effects include inability to completely empty bladder (it has to be emptied from time to time by catheter) and frequent bladder infections.

Which is better?

The study shows that both oral medication and botox are showing effects after only one month of use in almost 90 percents of women. Women reported that the number of leakages dropped to 1-3. After six months, the number of women who were satisfied with the control of their bladder dropped to 70 percents, regardless of the treatment they received. After 12 months, 38 percents of women who were taking drugs and 25 percents of women who received botox were still satisfied with the control.

So, which treatment will become recommended by doctors? The scientists who conducted the study believe that it will probably depend on the cost effectiveness of each treatment, which is being evaluated.


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