How Does Flomax Affect Your Immune System?

In the current climate, we are more worried about the immune system than ever before. 

Natural alternatives to boost immunity are becoming widespread in the population.

Lifestyle and dietary changes influence your body defenses. 

But you may have read that some medications may also do the same. 

Then, you might wonder if the drugs you are taking somehow weaken your immune function.

How does Flomax interact with the immune system? Is tamsulosin good or bad for your defenses?

What is Flomax?

Flomax is one of the commercial names of the drug tamsulosin hydrochloride. This is an alpha-blocker that works by taking the place of adrenaline in alpha-adrenergic receptors. 

Flomax, instead of adrenaline, is placed in the receptor and remains stuck there for a while. But unlike adrenaline, tamsulosin will not activate the receptor and takes the space of a molecule that would. That is why it is called an alpha-adrenergic blocker.

Alpha receptors are found in smooth muscle all over the body, and there’s a subgroup called alpha-1 receptors. They are found in the vascular smooth muscle and the lower urinary tract. 

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What is Flomax used for?

Flomax is one of the most popular alpha-blocker treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which usually causes urinary symptoms. Thus, tamsulosin is commonly prescribed to patients with lower urinary tract symptoms due to an enlarged prostate gland. 

By blocking alpha-adrenergic receptors, tamsulosin relaxes the muscle that surrounds the bladder neck. The urethra widens, and the urine flow improves.

People think that tamsulosin shrinks the prostate, which is not entirely accurate. Instead of shrinking the gland, it relaxes the prostate muscles and helps the bladder function. In some cases, tamsulosin may also be used to eliminate a kidney stone

Even though it is classified as an alpha-blocker, similar to blood pressure drugs, tamsulosin is not prescribed to lower high blood pressure.

How does Flomax affect your immune system?

Is Flomax good or bad for your immune system? In theory, tamsulosin could interact with the immune system. Immune cells display α1B adrenergic receptors, which Flomax could also block. 

These receptors are probably useful to trigger specific metabolic changes in lymphocytes. However, the exact function is not entirely understood.

This question of whether Flomax can suppress your immune system has not been answered by clinical trials, either. We can find in the literature many accounts of good and bad experiences with Flomax, and it is impossible to reach a firm conclusion.

A safety study revealed that infections were among the top problems patients under Flomax experience. 

We should also note that some patients develop an allergic reaction against Flomax. This is not a common side effect but can happen to some patients. A runny nose and open-angle glaucoma are much more common adverse reactions.

RELATED: Flomax Side Effects: Is Tamsulosin Safe To Take?

Does the body become more susceptible to bacterial and not viral disease? So far, there are no studies about how Flomax changes lymphocyte patterns of growth, differentiation, and behavior. Thus, it is not possible to ascertain that tamsulosin modulates the immune system in any way.

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What the research says

A study we would like to consider is a clinical trial. Unlike other safety trials, this one evaluated tamsulosin in the short and the long term. 

609 patients were followed up for four years. Some of them already had two years of taking tamsulosin, so they had a total of 6 years of experience at the end of the trial.

After breaking down and analyzing the results, we can find a report of 45.5% of infection cases as the most frequently observed treatment-emergent adverse event. 

We can further break it down into different types of infection: Pharyngitis in 23.8%, rhinitis in 25.7%, sinusitis in 12.1%, and influenza syndrome in 17.7% of patients.

The methodology section of this study mentioned that patients underwent assessments such as chest X-rays, electrocardiograms, blood chemistry, urinalysis, and hematology tests. 

But no control group of patients without tamsulosin was set. Thus, there is no way to know if this 45% of infection cases is significantly higher than the baseline.

This is an observational study, only providing correlation and not causation. There are thousands of factors that could not be taken into account. 

There is no final word about the effects of Flomax on the immune system. The lymphocytes display alpha-1 receptors, and in theory, there should be an interaction. But so far, clinical trials do not provide a clear picture of what is happening in the white blood cells.

But we do know about several ways to boost the immune system naturally, which we discuss below.

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5 natural ways to boost your immune system

1. Adopt a healthy diet

It is essential to adopt a healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet is a clear example of what a healthy diet should look like. 

It should have plenty of fruits and vegetables and include antioxidant substances and phytonutrients. Stay away from processed foods, refined foods, and high-sugar beverages.

Fruits and vegetables contain the substances our immune system needs to thrive. Antioxidants help the body counteract inflammatory damage. Avoiding harmful foods protects our metabolism, which is deeply linked to immune function.

2. Regular exercise

The latest recommendation of minimal exercise for American adults is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. 

Brisk walking is a suitable example of what moderate physical activity looks like. It increases your heartbeat but does not feel overly exhausting. 

Aim for 30 minutes every day, and do more if you can. Remember that the effects of exercise on the immune function build up progressively.

RELATED: Exercises That Boost Your Immune System.

3. Choose your natural remedies wisely

Recently, supplements and natural remedies are becoming very popular. Ask yourself if they offer a real solution to your immune problems. 

According to the literature, you could adopt different natural boosts. For example, probiotic supplements improve your gut microbiota, which is directly in contact with immune cells. 

Vitamin D is probably an important supplement if you don’t get much sunlight. Other nutrients your body may need include beta-glucan, zinc, vitamin C, magnesium, and B vitamins.

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4. Get enough sleep

Most of us start having problems sleeping as we get advanced in life. But sleep is deeply tied to your immunity, and if you’re not sleeping enough, the susceptibility to disease is higher. It would also disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause additional problems, including heart disease.

RELATED: How Does Sleep Affect Your Immune System?

5. Manage your stress and anxiety

Believe it or not, your emotions change how the immune system works. Stress releases a substance called cortisol. It is a steroid hormone. 

Like steroid drugs, cortisol affects the immune cells and inhibits their normal behavior. Exercise, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are excellent ways to cope with stress every day. 

RELATED: 15 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress And Anxiety.

Conclusion

Does Flomax suppress your immune system? The answer is not yet clear. 

This drug blocks the alpha-1 receptors in the smooth muscle of the prostate gland. That is how it reduces urination problems. There is also a subtype of alpha-1 receptors in white blood cells, but we don’t know how it behaves in the presence of tamsulosin.

Flomax is used to treat urinary symptoms such as increased frequency and urinary retention. Some of the most concerning side effects are postural hypotension and ejaculation disorders, but allergic reactions are also possible. 

It is still early to state that Flomax directly affects the immune system, either good or bad. What we do know is that exercise, sleep, a healthy diet, coping with stress, and choosing the right supplements can help your defenses.

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Sources

  1. Grisanti, L. A., & Porter, J. E. (2010). Synergistic α1 adrenergic receptor mediated increases in IL 1β from lipopolysaccharide challenged human monocytes is β arrestin 1 dependent and NF κB independent.
  2. Narayan, P., Evans, C. P., & Moon, T. (2003). Long-term safety and efficacy of tamsulosin for the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. The Journal of urology, 170(2), 498-502. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12853808/ 

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