Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common problem in men across the globe.
Estimates show that one-third of men older than 50 years have enlarged prostate, and more than 90% of men develop this problem by the age of 85.
About 14 million men in the US and 30 million in the world have symptoms[i] of this health problem that affects their quality of life. With a proactive approach, the successful management of this health condition is entirely possible.
As soon as symptoms occur, a man should go to see his doctor, who will prescribe the most suitable treatment.
In many cases, doctors prescribe Flomax, but that’s not the only drug that can treat symptoms of the enlarged prostate.
In this post, we are going to focus on Flomax alternatives and provide useful information about this drug.
Symptoms of BPH
Every man experiences symptoms of BPH differently. Some guys have mild to moderate symptoms, while others are severe.
The health condition tends to progress over time, which is why it’s crucial to learn how to recognize symptoms.
Before we move on to lifestyle changes you may want to make to address enlarged prostate, here are the symptoms to watch out for:
- Difficulty starting urination
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- Frequent urination and urinary urgency
- Inability to empty the bladder completely
- Nocturia (increased frequency of urination during the night)
- Urine stream stops and starts (hesitancy)
- Weak urine stream
Make sure to see your doctor who will diagnose the problem and recommend adequate treatment.
What is Flomax?
Flomax is a brand name for a drug called tamsulosin, an alpha-blocker prescribed to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
It is also prescribed for overactive bladder symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis. It works by relaxing muscles in the bladder and prostate to improve the flow of urine.
Alpha-blockers, such as Flomax, alter the behavior of hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline and relaxes muscles, alleviating symptoms. Flomax is, actually, considered a selective alpha-blocker because it targets the urinary tract specifically and has less of an impact on other muscles in the body.
According to the official Flomax online presentation on the website of the manufacturer, for many men, Flomax reduced symptoms of BPH in one week[ii]. However, this medication can be quite expensive, and it’s not suitable for everyone’s budget. Flomax price can cost over $200 a month, and insurance doesn’t always cover it entirely.
This would leave many men in the US without the necessary treatment. But, most patients don’t realize there are other alpha-blockers on the market, alternatives to Flomax.
When we are talking about Flomax and other medications for BPH, it is important to clarify one thing at the very beginning.
These medications are formulated to make it easier for men to urinate, i.e., to treat, manage, or decrease the severity of symptoms you experience.
They do not shrink the size of the prostate, and it may continue to grow bigger, which is why the doctor may recommend surgery such as open prostatectomy[iii].
Common side effects of Flomax
Generally speaking, every medication we take may cause side effects, and Flomax is not an exception. Some people may experience the following adverse events after taking the drug[iv]:
- Abnormal ejaculation
- Back pain
- Blurred vision
- Dental problems
- Dry mouth
- Insomnia Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Low blood pressure
- Low sex drive
- Runny and/or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Weakness and drowsiness
Serious side effects of drug Flomax include fainting, severe dizziness, and an erection that is painful and lasts for more than four hours.
Keep in mind that these adverse reactions don’t necessarily indicate you’ll have them too.
Not every man has side effects with Flomax. Also, it’s worth mentioning that in most cases, side effects are not severe and usually don’t require medical attention.
That being said, if you experience serious side effects or the above-mentioned symptoms won’t go away, consult your urologist who will either prescribe a Flomax alternative or adjust the dosage.
In order to reduce the risk of side effects, take the dose prescribed by the doctor. Avoid increasing or decreasing the dosage on your own. This and other drugs are a subject of a clinical study and other types of research to make it easier for patients to manage their symptoms.
Flomax tamsulosin is not the only alpha-blocker on the market, and it is not the only medication that can treat enlargement of the prostate. Other alpha-blockers include:
Doxazosin is primarily used to treat symptoms of BPH in men. However, it is also used alone or in combination with other drugs to manage high blood pressure. Sold under brand names Cardura and Cardura XL[v], this drug comes in tablet form. It is available at a lower price, which may be more suitable for men whose budget is limited.
Terazosin, sold under brand name Hytrin, is also an alpha-blocker that treats symptoms of hypertension and enlarged prostate. Like other medications of this kind, Hytrin relaxes blood vessels and muscles in the prostate and bladder neck to make it easier for a man to urinate. Like the above-mentioned drug, this one is also a cheaper alternative to Flomax.
Alfuzosin, available under brand name Uroxatral, is an alpha-blocker prescribed to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Just like other members of this class of drugs, Uroxatral functions by relaxing the muscles in the prostate and bladder neck to make it easier to urinate. The drug was patented in 1978 but approved for medical use in 1988. In the United States, it was approved for the treatment of BPH in 2003.
Silodosin, available under brand name Rapaflo, is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of alpha-blockers used for the treatment of BPH. It is only approved for the management of BPH and functions in the same way as other drugs in this class. Men with kidney and liver disease should not take Rapaflo.
The US Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) approved Flomax for the management of urinary symptoms of BPH in 1997. Twelve years later, in 2009, the drug manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim lost the patent exclusivity of the drug molecule.
What does this mean to you? It means that now there are many lost-cost generics available. You can use tamsulosin hydrochloride to address symptoms of an enlarged prostate, and it doesn’t have to be Flomax. For many men with BPH, it may be easier to buy tamsulosin in this form rather than opt for Flomax.
Other drugs to treat BPH
Even though Flomax is probably the most popular medication for BPH, it’s not the only one. In fact, the whole class of alpha-blockers is not the only pharmaceutical option for the management of urinary symptoms. Below, you can see other drugs that can help improve a man’s quality of life.
5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are a class of drugs that are also specifically created to alleviate symptoms of BPH but may be used to address male pattern hair loss too. These drugs work by preventing the body from converting testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
Why? That’s because DHT can encourage the growth of the prostate, which puts more pressure on the urethra, thus making it difficult for a man to urinate properly.
Great examples of this class of drugs include finasteride Proscar and dutasteride (Avodart). Like other medications, these can also induce some adverse reactions such as erectile dysfunction (ED), low libido, ejaculatory problems, among others.
Although phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors are mainly used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, they can also help men with an enlarged prostate. In some cases, they are used in combination with other drugs for BPH to address erectile dysfunction and other side effects. You have probably heard a lot about these drugs, and their brand names will sound familiar. Examples of this class of drugs include sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).
Ideally, one medication would help on its own, but in some cases, that doesn’t happen. In situations when one drug is not enough, the doctor may recommend combinations of different medicines. Common drug combinations include:
- Finasteride Proscar and doxazosin (Cardura)
- Dutasteride (Avodart) and tamsulosin (Flomax)
- Alpha-blockers and antimuscarinics (medications that treat overactive bladder)
Avoid combining drugs on your own. The doctor is the one who should recommend a suitable combination and discuss the benefits and risks with a patient. This way, you can prevent erectile dysfunction, which can often occur in patients with BPH.
The key to the management of symptoms of BPH is to adhere to the doctor’s instructions and adopt a proactive approach.
Besides the prescribed medication, you may also want to try some natural remedies that have been used for centuries to treat prostate-related problems such as BPH. Below, you can see some of the best natural remedies for enlarged prostate.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a type of palm native to the southeastern areas of the United States. The berries obtained from this plant can address numerous health conditions, including problems affecting a man’s prostate. This plant can also help improve urinary tract function, which is crucial for men with BPH. Intake of saw palmetto can also reduce inflammation in men with an enlarged prostate.
Beta-sitosterol is a plant substance that relieves urinary symptoms of BPH, including the strength of the urine flow. The compound is found in vegetable oil, avocadoes, nuts, and other sources. Today, there are also supplements that deliver beta-sitosterol to help manage prostate problems.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is an amazing herb that people used to treat a wide range of health problems throughout history. This plant alleviates inflammation and prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT, thus relieving symptoms of BPH and preventing prostate growth. Stinging nettle also has the potential to treat short- and long-term urination problems without adverse reactions.
Other natural remedies for enlarged prostate
Besides the above-mentioned remedies, nature has a lot more to offer. Here are some other natural remedies you may find helpful to reduce symptoms associated with enlarged prostate:
- Cernilton – made from rye-grass pollen
- Saxifrage – from ancient Chinese medicine improves prostate function
- Babassu – made from Brazilian palm tree
- Pygeum – comes from the bark of the African plum tree
- Pumpkin seed – contains beta-sitosterol
If you’re not sure, discuss these natural remedies with your doctor. Remember that management of BPH goes beyond your prostate and helps preserve your overall health in the long run.
You can help lower the risk of complications, such as kidney damage and renal failure. Renal failure can occur due to kidney stones and many other causes, including BPH because when left unmanaged, this problem can cause infection, bladder damage, and kidney damage.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to change in your lifestyle to make it easier to manage BPH and improve your quality of life, cut the risk of erectile dysfunction, and general wellbeing. They are:
- Limit the intake of beverages at night and try not to drink anything hour or two before bedtime to reduce the risk of having to get up in the middle of the night to urinate.
- Limit the intake of coffee and alcohol because they can increase the production of urine and irritate your bladder.
- Manage stress to reduce the overall tension, and you can achieve this through exercise, yoga, meditation.
- Do Kegel exercises for men to strengthen your bladder (constrict and release pelvic muscles; the muscles you use to stop the urine stream).
- Adjust your diet so that it promotes prostate health by eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna).
- Don’t try to “hold it in” when you have the urgent need to urinate.
- Try to urinate at regular times, e.g., every four to six hours to retrain your bladder.
- Bearing in mind that overweight and obesity are associated with enlarged prostate make sure to slim down or maintain your weight in the healthy range.
- Try double voiding (urinate and then urinate again a few moments later).
- Keep yourself warm during cold winter temperatures.
- Don’t strain to empty your bladder.
In other words, adopting a healthy lifestyle is a good thing for your general wellbeing, including a healthy prostate. When we are discussing lifestyle changes, you need to see the doctor regularly if you have BPH. The doctor will closely monitor the condition to detect whether there’s a further prostate enlargement in order to adjust your treatment.
When to see a doctor?
Ideally, a man should see his doctor as soon as urinary symptoms occur in order to find out the underlying cause and learn how to feel better.
Unfortunately, most men are reluctant to see a health care provider for problems affecting the urinary tract until they become quite frustrating to handle. If you notice blood in the urine, inability to urinate, and pain or burning sensation on urinating, you need to see the doctor immediately.
Flomax tamsulosin is one of the most popular medications for the treatment of enlarged prostate, but it is not the only one.
In this post, we discussed the Flomax alternative as well as natural remedies and lifestyle modifications for the treatment of symptoms associated with BPH.
Be proactive, see your doctor regularly, and modify your lifestyle for a better quality of life and general wellbeing. Work with your doctor to adjust the treatment and discuss surgical options. Your prostate will thank you.