Q. I read in your column that Detrol might have a negative impact on memory. Both my sister and I have been complaining about memory problems since we started taking it for overactive bladder problems.
I phoned my doctor’s office about this issue and was told they have never heard about this reaction at all. Why are doctors not aware of this side effect?
A. Modern medicine is highly compartmentalized. Specialists in one area may not always be aware of developments in another field. That might explain why a urologist could be unaware of the cognitive impact of certain bladder medicines. The FDA has not required drug companies to highlight this complication.
There is increasing evidence, though, that drugs that affect the activity of the brain chemical acetylcholine can impair cognitive function, especially in older people (Neurological Sciences, online, Feb. 20, 2009). Medications like Detrol and Ditropan can cause dry mouth and constipation as well as confusion, disorientation and hallucinations.