Solifenacin (Oral)

Solifenacin is a prescription medicine that is primarily used to treat urinary incontinence in adult patients.

Overview

Solifenacin is used to control an overactive bladder, which is otherwise known as urge urinary incontinence or urinary frequency. It is available by prescription only under the U.S. trade name VESIcare® in 5mg or 10mg strengths.

Overactive Bladder

Medical specialists diagnose patients with having an "overactive bladder"by conducting a number of assessments and specialized tests. The most telling sign of this condition is when the bladder's muscles contract prematurely and excessively. As a result, patients experience:

  • The urgent need to urinate several times per day
  • An inability to hold urine in until a bathroom is available

As an analogy, balloons are often used to demonstrate how this organ functions on a day-to-day basis:

In a normal functioning bladder, the organ expands and contracts when it is filled with enough urine waste. The bladder moreover works in synergy with the brain by sending neurons that signal "it's time for a release"when the filler reaches a certain level.

In an overactive bladder, however, contractions occur sporadically vs. systematically - and long before the bladder even has a chance to fill up and expand.

Makeshift Solutions for an Overactive Bladder

Today, bladder control pads are widely available on the marketplace. However, these can be very limiting and may also be uncomfortable to wear around-the-clock. To provide a more favorable solution, doctors occasionally prescribe Solifenacin tablets to keep an overactive bladder under control.

The Mechanisms of Action

Solifenacin works by lowering smooth muscle tone in the bladder and ultimately increases the bladder's ability to keep more urine for longer stretches of time.

Solifenacin contains active ingredients that are known to inhibit the proteins responsible for muscle contractions in the bladder. A doctor can explain more on how the medicine works during an in-office consultation.

Most patients are given one tablet once per day for around-the-clock protection.

Condition(s) Treated?

  • Overactive Bladder, Urge Urinary Incontinence, Urgency, and Urinary Frequency

Type of Medicine?

  • Antimuscarinics, Muscarinic Receptor Antagonist, Bladder Selective Muscarinic Antagonist

Side Effects

Many prescription medicines, including Solifenacin, come with the risk of unwanted side effects. Your doctor will weigh a number of variables to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks before prescribing Solifenacin.

Many of the side effects discussed below generally dissolve with time as the body adapts to the treatment with Solifenacin.

Still, it is important for patients to have a general idea of when to wait it out or call for emergency medical help.

If you are unsure of what to do, contact a local pharmacist or personal doctor for help.

Some Common Side Effects of Solifenacin

The most widely reported side effects of taking Solifenacin include:

  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Dryness of the mouth (Xerostomia)
  • Feeling constipated
  • General feeling of confusion
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Pain in the stomach
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vision changes

These usually subside with time. If the symptoms persist for more than three days, stop taking the medication and consult a healthcare provider.

Some Rare Side Effects of Solifenacin:

Medical researchers have determined that some of the rare side effects of Solifenacin include:

  • Abnormal tiredness (lethargy or sleepiness)
  • Decrease in urine volume
  • Feeling pain in the lower abdomen
  • Fevers and chills
  • Pain or difficulty urinating
  • Streaks of blood in the urine
  • Sudden edema (swelling) in the legs

These are serious side effects of Solifenacin. If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, call 911 right away.

You should also get medical help if you experience:

  • An abnormal heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Hives, rashes, or itchiness
  • Sudden dwelling in any part of the body (Face, Eyes, Mouth, Hands, Feet)
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Tingling sensations

Read more under the warnings section below.

Dosage

The following section provides a general idea of the recommended dosage for Solifenacin. The prescribed amount is usually based on the underlying condition it is used to treat, how the medicine is supplied, and the length of treatment.

To promote patient safety and in order to limit the risk of side effects, doctors additionally look at patients' age, BMI, and full medical history.

The dosage amounts listed in this guide should never substitute the one dispensed by a doctor or pharmacist. Do not stop or start taking any new medications without first consulting your primary healthcare provider.

Dosage for Treating an Overactive Bladder:

  • Adults: 5 mg | 1X Daily (Max Dose: 10 mg)
  • Children: Varied by a Doctor's Assessment

Note: Patients who have been diagnosed with a renal or hepatic impairment should not take more than 5 mg of Solifenacin per day. The same applies to patients who are currently taking a CYP3A4 Inhibitor.

Solifenacin is supplied in whole tablet form in either 5 mg (light yellow color) or 10 mg (light pink color) strengths. While some tablets can be crushed or chewed before swallowing, pharmacists advise against doing so with Solifenacin - as it has a sustained release feature to manage an overactive bladder throughout the day.

Best Practices for Use

To properly take this medicine, pharmacists suggest swallowing it whole with a liquid of choice, (juice or water). You can also take Solifenacin with or without food.

Solifenacin prescriptions include important insert leaflets disclosing in full how to correctly take this medicine. Patients are advised to spend a few minutes reading the leaflet provided, before commencing treatment.

As with all prescription medications, it is important to take the prescribed amount, no more and no less, for the recommended length of treatment. Doing so promotes desired results - which is getting an overactive bladder under control.

Taking Solifenacin as prescribed moreover reduces the risk of side effects.

Missed Dose

If you forget to take your medicine, restart the routine on the next day. This dosage should never be doubled as one tablet works for 24 hours on average.

Overdose

In the event of an overdose, contact 911 right away. If possible, the American Association of Poison Control Centers should also be called to stop or mitigate side effects.

Some of the warning signs of an overdose include:

  • A Blackout
  • Abnormal Heartbeat
  • Blushing or Reddening Skin
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Excessive Dryness of the Mouth or Eyes
  • Fainting
  • Illusions
  • Spikes in Temperature (Fever)
  • Uncontrollable Shaking

Tips for Taking Prescription Medicines

Follow some of the tips below to avoid the complications of an overdose or missed dose:

  • Reminders - To avoid a missed dose, set an alarm or calendar reminder on your smartphone for a specific time of day to take Solifenacin.
  • Maintain the Full Treatment Length - It is essential that you take all prescribed Solifenacin doses, even if you feel better and your overactive bladder is under control. Never stop taking this medicine unless it has been recommended by your doctor to do so.

Interactions

Contraindications with other medicines have been indicated with Solifenacin.

The most commonly reported negative drug interactions with Solifenacin are CYP3A4 Inhibitors, as this drug slows metabolic function and subsequently excretion.

An example of a CYP34A Inhibitor is Ketoconazole. Concomitant use with other drugs such as Moxifloxacin or Pimozide has moreover demonstrated adverse effects, such as heart arrhythmia, for example.

Based on these reported drug interactions, patients should provide a full list of all medicines in use to their medical provider, including prescription and non-prescription medicines.

Warnings

Solifenacin users should exercise caution when taking this medicine as it could potentially cause adverse reactions, some potentially life-threatening.

Find more precautionary measures regarding this medication below:

Hypersensitivity

Medical researchers have determined that Solifenacin could possibly cause Angioedema, a serious allergy that requires medical intervention.

Patients who are taking Solifenacin should advise their doctor of any past allergic reactions to foods, medicines, dyes, preservatives, or animal products. Moreover, some of the warning signs of Angioedema should be studied in order to respond appropriately in the event it occurs.

Some of the telltale signs of Angioedema include but aren't limited to:

  • Any Sudden Swelling (e.g. Eyes, Mouth, Lower Body)
  • Chest Tightness
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Itchiness, Rashes, and/or Hives
  • Wheezing

If any of these symptoms occur, tell a loved one and call 911 immediately. Do not continue taking Solifenacin unless a medical provider has completed a full assessment and has told you to resume treatment.

Driving and Using Heavy Machinery

Patients taking Solifenacin may experience severe drowsiness. Patients should, therefore, exercise caution when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Put a backup plan in place in case you feel really sleepy and this drowsiness becomes hard to shake.

For example, you could plan on pulling over and calling a designated driver for help if this happens to you. This backup plan helps keep both you and the general public safe.

Dry Mouth

Your mouth may feel excessively dry while undergoing treatment with Solifenacin. If your mouth feels parched and you do not want to drink excessive amounts of water, try:

  • Chewing Sugarless Gums
  • Melting Small Pieces of Ice in the Mouth
  • Using an Over-the-Counter Saliva Substitute (Ask a Doctor Before Using with Solifenacin)

If dry mouth persists for more than 14 days, contact your medical provider for help.

Heat Stroke

One of the downsides of taking Solifenacin is that perspiration may decrease and this could subsequently result in overheating - or heat stroke.

Some patients are more susceptible to this risk than others, including older patients.

Some of the rules of thumb while taking Solifenacin is to wear light clothing, especially during the warmer summer months and staying out of the sun.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Tell your doctor if you have or had a history of the below pre-existing conditions. Dosage amounts for Solifenacin may be modified in order to reduce the risk of adverse side effects, or worsening conditions.

Several medical studies have shown that taking Solifenacin could cause the following conditions to become worse:

  • Acute or Chronic Urinary Retention
  • Blockage of the Bladder
  • Frequent Constipation
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart Health Issues
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Renal Impairment

Senior Prescriptions

Additionally, senior patients who are more predisposed to kidney or liver issues may receive an adjusted dose in order to reduce the possible side effects of Solifenacin.

Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or plan to be, inform your doctor before taking Solifenacin. Medical studies have demonstrated that Solifenacin crosses the placental barrier and could possibly cause birth defects in mice. It is unclear how the medication affects human fetuses at this time.

Additionally, patients should advise their medical providers if they are currently breastfeeding.

Progress Checkups

When taking Solifenacin, patients can anticipate follow-up visits with a medical provider to determine if the medication is working as it should.

Storage

Solifenacin, as with most prescription tablet medicines, should be stored out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked container. The medicine should moreover be placed in a high and locked cabinet.

Pharmacists recommend storing at room temperature of 25ºC (77ºF), and away from direct heat or sunlight. Do not store in a fridge or freezer.

Prescription drug users should never flush drugs down the toilet or dispense of it in a sink as this could seep into waterways and affect wildlife. To discard of any unused portions of the medication, take it to a local pharmacy.

Summary

An overactive bladder is heralded by the frequent and sudden need to urinate at all hours of the day. Individuals who are diagnosed with this condition often face many challenges going out without fear of when a sudden urge to go may strike.

Fortunately, patients' quality of life can be improved significantly with the help of the prescription drug Solifenacin. This treatment is usually taken just once per day for up to 24 hours of relief.

Think of Solifenacin as an effective "repair kit"for defective internal plumbing that causes costly and embarrassing leaks in public and private.

Most doctors prescribe 5 mg once daily. The dosage may be increased to 10 mg depending on how well the patient tolerates the initial treatment.

As with all medicines, Solifenacin carries the risks of adverse side effects. As such, patients are usually monitored closely by a medical professional during the course of treatment. Users are advised to keep all appointments and to use caution when driving or operating heavy machinery. In the event of an allergic reaction or incidences of sudden swelling or irregular heartbeat, 911 should be dialled immediately.

If you frequently feel a sudden urge to urinate several times per day, consult a urologist or primary care provider for an assessment. Solifenacin may be able to help you control the symptoms of an overactive bladder.

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Last Reviewed:
December 24, 2017
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018