Some Urinary Emergency Drugs Affect Memory – Naturopathic and Naturopathic Specialists Portal

Be careful with certain urinary drugs

So-called anticholinergics are prescribed both as standard treatment for an overactive bladder and for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, especially in older people, taking it can lead to memory problems and increase the risk of dementia, warns the German Senior League.

You ‘have to’ constantly: A strong urge to urinate is a particularly stressful form of weak bladder. (Photo: Andrea Warnecke / dpa-tmn)

They alleviate the constant urge to go to the bathroom, but can affect memory: not only people with dementia and Parkinson’s disease should avoid certain medications. Various medications can significantly reduce the need to urinate. However, some can have unwanted side effects in older people.

Anticholinergics can damage memory

According to the German Senior League, many drugs in the anticholinergic group have a negative effect on memory performance – for people with dementia or Parkinson’s disease, only anticholinergics that do not enter the brain are suitable . This note also applies in general to the elderly.

How do anticholinergics work?

In order to relieve the excessive urge to urinate and increase the capacity of the bladder, these drugs inhibit the messenger substance acetylcholine and thus correct the disturbed signal transmission between the bladder muscle and the brain, as explained in the Seniors League.

Acetylcholine is found not only in the bladder, but wherever there are nerve cells – including in the brain: “Anticholinergics that cross the blood-brain barrier in the central nervous system can therefore impair the ability to think. “

The active ingredients must not cross the blood-brain barrier

For people suffering from memory disorders, Parkinson’s disease or dementia, only active ingredients which, due to their molecular structure, do not cross the blood-brain barrier are suitable. The Senior Citizens’ League recommends that those affected treat these underlying conditions so that doctors can prescribe the appropriate medication for the urge to urinate. (vb; source: dpa / tmn)

Also read: Causes and treatments of frequent urination.

Author and source information

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This text conforms to the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Graduate Editor (FH) Volker Blasek


Deutsche Seniorenliga eV: Better bladder control – worse memory? (published: October 5, 2020),

Important note:
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.