- What is Flomax (Tamsulosin)?
- What are the side effects of Flomax?
- Reasons for stopping Flomax
- What are the side effects after stopping taking Flomax (Tamsulosin)?
- Risks of stopping Flomax
- How to stop taking Flomax (Tamsulosin) safely
- How long does Flomax stay in your system after stopping?
- Flomax withdrawal
- Flomax alternatives for prostate problems
One of the reasons why people think twice before starting medical treatment is the fear of withdrawal syndrome.
Drug withdrawal is a common problem in alcohol, illegal drugs, and some prescription medications, especially sleeping pills and potent analgesics.
Not all medicines will cause this side effect. Still, the concern is easy to understand.
All patients should receive medical advice about what to do if they are about to quit medical treatment.
Flomax does not fall into the same category as opiates and other drugs with a worrying withdrawal syndrome.
Still, it modulates nerve transmission through receptors in the cell. So what will happen if you stop taking this medication?
This article will review the expected Flomax side effects after stopping this medication. We will also consider the reasons to quit taking it and give you the risks, withdrawal symptoms, and all you need to know. Still, we recommend talking to your urologist before making any change to your treatment.
What is Flomax (Tamsulosin)?
You can also find it as a generic drug with the name Tamsulosin. This alternative is cheaper than Flomax, but still, some users prefer the brand name.
Flomax is used in benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. The drug does not necessarily shrink the prostate gland. What it does is change the nerve transmission to relax the urinary bladder. In doing so, the urinary symptoms improve, and emptying the bladder does not feel so difficult.
It is an alpha-adrenergic blocker, which means that it targets receptors in the cell, blocking them and not allowing stimulation. That is how the muscles in the prostate and bladder relax, and the urine flow improves.
The drug class is similar to some blood pressure medications, except the target receptor is slightly different. Thus, Flomax may affect blood pressure. Still, it is not a blood pressure drug and shouldn’t be used as such (1).
What are the side effects of Flomax?
Before reviewing Flomax’s side effects after stopping the medication, we can list some adverse events patients can experience during treatment.
This enlarged prostate treatment may trigger the following side effects. The most common include (1,2):
- Cough and sore throat
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Dizziness and tiredness
- Reduced muscle strength and loss of energy
- Runny nose
- Reduction of semen volume
In most cases, the side effects listed above are not severe. They may begin a few days after taking Flomax and usually do not last more than a few weeks. Talk to your doctor if you feel severe side effects or they do not resolve by themselves.
Some patients may also experience severe side effects. They are rare but can become a problem. Thus, if you are experiencing the adverse events below, talk to your doctor right away (1,2).
- Priapism, which is a long-lasting and painful erection
- Abnormal ejaculation
- Blurry vision
- Low blood pressure
- An allergic reaction with rash, hives, itching, fever, trouble breathing, or swelling of your throat.
They are not common side effects but should be reported if you recently started treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Some patients may also experience erectile dysfunction. It is difficult to tell when it is triggered by drugs or an underlying medical or psychogenic cause. Still, it is worth your attention if the symptoms start right after taking your first dose.
Reasons for stopping Flomax
The most important reason for stopping Flomax is experiencing the rare side effects listed above. Some can be potentially life-threatening. Others are very annoying and difficult to handle. Thus, the main reason for stopping Flomax is the onset of an adverse event after taking the drug.
Also, your doctor may recommend discontinuing the treatment if you are receiving Flomax for your enlarged prostate and need cataract surgery. If you continue taking it, Flomax may cause a complication known as intraoperative floppy iris syndrome.
Other patients may need to discontinue Flomax after reducing their urinary symptoms. Some patients may need to take drugs that will interact with tamsulosin. For example, the antidepressant paroxetine changes the way your body metabolizes tamsulosin. Combining it with erectile dysfunction drugs may lower your blood pressure. Moreover, some blood pressure medications may also interact with tamsulosin (2).
The above are valid medical reasons to stop taking tamsulosin. Still, it would help if you talked to your doctor before discontinuing your treatment or changing your dose.
What are the side effects after stopping taking Flomax (Tamsulosin)?
Flomax side effects after stopping are usually related to a return of the original BPH symptoms. This drug improves the urine flow in patients with an enlarged prostate. If patients stop taking it the bladder and prostate tissue no longer receive the drug.
The blocked alpha-adrenergic receptors are activated once again. Thus, the urinary tract does not relax properly. Patients may end up with the same urinary symptoms experienced before treatment.
However, not all patients will experience a return of BPH symptoms. For instance, there is a study about it published in the journal Urologia Internationalis.
The study evaluated a group of Japanese men who achieved symptom improvements after being treated with tamsulosin. After stopping Flomax, not all patients suffered a return of BPH symptoms. At 24 weeks, 68.9% of them still experienced improved urinary tract symptoms (3).
This research was reviewed in a meta-analysis with nine other studies. The researchers, this time, evaluated data from 1081 participants in total. Flomax side effects after stopping the treatment were more evident in patients in monotherapy. Patients under combination therapy did not have significant short-term or long-term consequences.
In other words, if you are receiving more than one treatment for your urinary symptoms, the side effects after stopping Flomax will be minimal. And if Flomax is the only medication you are taking, there is a considerable chance of side effects, but it won’t happen to every patient (4).
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Risks of stopping Flomax
There are no severe or life-threatening risks after stopping Flomax. It does not cause dependence.
Flomax (tamsulosin) is used in benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer to relax the bladder structures. This increases the space in the urethra and improves the urine flow.
The same happens if you do not follow the appropriate schedule to take the drug. But other than that, it doesn’t increase your disease risk in other body systems.
We could say that the main risk of stopping Flomax would be experiencing urinary retention. It was reported in 1-4% of patients who discontinued the treatment. However, the incidence of this adverse event was not statistically significant (4).
How to stop taking Flomax (Tamsulosin) safely
Flomax is a prescription medication, and it should be taken following medical advice. Stopping Flomax should also be guided by your doctor to reduce the risk of worsening urinary symptoms.
Your doctor should also know if you stop taking tamsulosin because it interacts with other medications. So, if you are taking multiple drugs, your doctor probably adjusted the dose based on this interaction.
Moreover, the study reviewed above shows that patients receiving combination therapy have better results after stopping tamsulosin. Then, your doctor could make changes to your treatment for a few weeks before discontinuing Flomax.
As noted, the first recommendation is to communicate to your doctor your decision and receive medical advice.
According to the Japanese study mentioned above, patients with successful discontinuation of tamsulosin had the following common traits:
- They only required a single tamsulosin dose of 0.2 mg
- They initially had mild or moderate urinary tract symptoms
- At the moment of discontinuation, they had a significant improvement in their symptoms
- They didn’t have severe prostatic hyperplasia
The patients discontinued the treatment under these circumstances and required no dose reduction in preparation (3).
However, some doctors would prefer to discontinue Flomax over days or weeks, reducing the dose gradually and monitoring your blood pressure.
How long does Flomax stay in your system after stopping?
Flomax has a half-life of 9 to 15 hours. In other words, it is metabolized by your liver in this time frame. After being metabolized, it is converted into an inactive substance and excreted in the urine. Thus, you could say that most patients will still have Flomax in their system for no more than 15 hours after the last dose.
During this time, tamsulosin will reach the prostate tissue and keep relaxing the urethra. No studies have been made to determine if tamsulosin will be detected in your saliva, urine, and hair for longer than its half-life.
A withdrawal syndrome is defined as a set of signs and symptoms that show up after discontinuing treatment. The withdrawal symptoms are very pronounced in some drugs, as in opioids and antidepressants. These medications often cause a rebound effect, and patients experience worse symptoms than they initially tried to relieve.
Flomax is different in this regard. The withdrawal syndrome only features a return of BPH symptoms in some patients. Not all will experience this effect, though.
Prevalence is different across studies and is around 30% at 24 weeks. However, some patients may experience a temporary worsening of the symptoms at four weeks.
This symptomatic worsening may include:
- Nocturia: An increase in urinary frequency at night that wakes up patients repeatedly.
- Increased urinary frequency: This symptom is measured throughout the day, contrary to nocturia.
- Urinary urgency: A sudden urge to urinate that isn’t easy to control
- Terminal dribbling: After the main urinary stream is over, you keep dribbling urine, and it will probably stain your clothes.
- Interrupted and weak urinary stream: The stream is not thick and can be interrupted and resumed at times.
- Difficulty starting to urinate: Patients will probably need to push hard before starting the urinary stream.
As noted, Flomax’s side effects after stopping treatment depend on various factors. For example, the risk reduces significantly if you receive additional treatment for your BPH symptoms.
Flomax alternatives for prostate problems
What type of treatment can your doctor include as an alternative to Flomax?
Here’s a list of medications and natural alternatives worth trying (5):
- Other alpha-blockers: Tamsulosin is a common medication for prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia. But it is not the only one. Other alpha-blockers with a similar effect include alfuzosin, doxazosin, silodosin, and terazosin.
- Herbal treatment: Many natural options improve urinary flow and may help you maintain a good quality of life after stopping Flomax. They include Pygeum africanum and Saw palmetto, among others.
- Lifestyle changes: You can also opt for a few lifestyle changes to relieve your symptoms. For example, you should consider limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake, controlling your weight, and trying bladder retraining to reduce the number of times you need to urinate every day.
Flomax’s side effects after stopping the medication are not life-threatening or deeply concerning. This medication is prescribed to control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, and you’re expected to experience the symptoms again if you stop taking it.
However, some studies suggest that, after achieving symptomatic improvements, some patients may not need long-term therapy to maintain treatment success. Many patients do not experience a rebound effect, but only when certain conditions are met.
Thus, we encourage readers to talk about their BPH treatment with their doctor before making any changes or discontinuing altogether. Each patient may need a different strategy to reduce the risk of side effects and maintain a good quality of life.