Anticholinergic drugs can treat a variety of conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bladder conditions, and gastrointestinal disorders, among others.
Only a doctor can determine which anticholinergics are right for a person and how long the treatment should last. The inappropriate use of anticholinergics can have severe adverse effects.
In this article, learn more about anticholinergic drugs, their uses, and possible side effects.
Anticholinergics are a type of medication that blocks the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine transfers signals between cells that affect specific bodily functions.
The medication blocks acetylcholine from causing involuntary muscle movements in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, and other areas of the body.
As anticholinergics can affect a variety of functions, including digestion, urination, salivation, and movement, they can help treat many conditions.
Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, in the cholinergic system. The cholinergic system plays a role in:
- the emotions
The cholinergic system has
Anticholinergics block activity at both these types of receptors.
Anticholinergics can help treat various health conditions,
- respiratory disorders, such as COPD
- overactive bladder and incontinence
- symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremor
- cardiovascular disease
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting
Doctors may also prescribe anticholinergics such as orphenadrine as muscle relaxants. These drugs can be useful during surgery to block neuromuscular reactions and stop saliva production.
Flavoxate and oxybutynin are antispasmodic agents, which means they can help prevent vomiting. Clindinium, an anticholinergic drug that also contains chlordiazepoxide, is another example.
Some people use anticholinergics off-label for excessive sweating.
Different types of anticholinergic drugs can treat different conditions or symptoms. These medications are only available with a doctor’s prescription.
On March 21, 2022, Sandoz issued a voluntary
Anticholinergics are usually safe to use if a doctor prescribes them, but side effects can occur.
The risk of adverse effects will depend on the individual’s medical history, the dosage, and the type of anticholinergics they take. Age may also be a factor.
Possible side effects include:
- lack of sweating
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- urinary retention
- blurred vision
- vision loss
- dilated pupils
- reduced muscle contraction
- problems with thinking and memory
- behavioral changes
It is essential to remain hydrated when taking anticholinergics because they decrease sweating, which may increase the risk of overheating.
Taking too many anticholinergics can result in
Doctors need to
Older people are more at risk because their blood-brain barrier is more permeable, which means the active ingredients can pass more easily into the brain.
Taking too much of an anticholinergic or using more than one anticholinergic drug can also lead to adverse effects.
Conditions that can worsen with the use of anticholinergics include:
Anticholinergics are medications that block the action of acetylcholine, a type of neurotransmitter. As a result, they stop involuntary muscle movements and various bodily functions.
Anticholinergic drugs can help treat a range of conditions, including COPD, an overactive bladder, gastrointestinal disorders, and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Anticholinergics are only available via prescription, so it is best to speak with a doctor about which type can help treat specific conditions. A doctor can also explain the risks and side effects.