Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition in men as they hit their 50’s.
And unfortunately… it comes with a number of embarrasing urinary tract symptoms.
Most men with BPH receive tamsulosin (brand name: Flomax) to help manage their urinary symptoms.
Tamsulosin blocks the activity of α-adrenergic receptors to relax the muscles around the prostate gland.
This helps to relieve urinary symptoms of BPH. It is also commonly prescribed for the treatment of kidney stones.
Side effects range from sexual problems to hypotension require natural approaches.
Lifestyle changes, including physical activity, a healthy diet, and natural supplements, can help maintain a healthy prostate.
What is Tamsulosin?
Tamsulosin is an α-adrenoreceptor antagonist (alpha blockers) that is used to block the activity of α-adrenergic receptors.
Tamsulosin specifically relaxes the muscles around the prostate gland. This relieves lower urinary symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
It can also be used to manage symptoms of other prostate conditions, like prostatitis.
How does Tamsulosin work?
Tamsulosin blocks the activity of α-1A and α-1D adrenoreceptor subtypes. It is useful for lower urinary symptoms caused by prostate conditions.
Tamsulosin’s specificity helps target it to the prostate gland and bladder muscles. Further, this prostate specificity helps reduce side effects on the body.
How much does Tamsulosin cost?
Your location and health care system can influence the price of your medications.
Like many off-patent medications, the exact cost of tamsulosin can vary greatly.
You should expect to pay $10 to $250 per month. However, generic versions of tamsulosin with similar efficacy are cheaper than brand names.
How much Tamsulosin should you take?
Tamsulosin is taken daily by mouth as directed by your doctor. The initial dose is usually 0.4 mg of tamsulosin hydrochloride.
However, the amount and duration of tamsulosin medication will depend on your symptoms and response to treatment. Your doctor may increase your dose up to 0.8 mg taken orally once a day.
What are the benefits and risks of tamsulosin?
BPH is a progressive disease, and early treatment can reduce the development of urinary symptoms.
Long-term studies have shown that patients treated with tamsulosin achieve relief from BPH symptoms. However, the occurrence of an adverse event is common in the first 24 months of treatment.
The risk of developing urinary tract infection, rhinitis, pain, and pharyngitis has been reported (Narayan and Tunuguntla, 2005).
Reduced blood pressure and its associated side-effects are further risks that need evaluation.
Side effects of Tamsulosin
Along with its effect on an enlarged prostate, tamsulosin may cause some undesirable effects.
You may experience one or more of the common side effects, including:
- Difficult urination
- Abnormal ejaculation
Alpha-blockers can cause hypotension and temporary loss of consciousness. Though tamsulosin inhibits the adrenoceptor subtype in the prostate gland, it may lower your blood pressure causing dizziness or fainting. You may experience some rare side effects, like:
- Decreased interest in sexual drive and performance
- Pain around the eyes
- Sleeping disorders
Considerations for taking Tamsulosin?
It is essential to balance the risk of taking tamsulosin against the relief of BPH symptoms.
Your doctor will help you make this decision. They will take into account drug interactions, other medical conditions, and the severity of BPH symptoms.
- Drug interactions and tamsulosin: Unwanted drug interactions can cause life-threatening adverse effects.
Like many drugs, tamsulosin may interact with other medicines you take. Your medical team may need to replace tamsulosin with other treatments.
Alternatively, they may change those medicines to avoid adverse reactions. Hence, it is important to mention your tamsulosin medication when getting treatment for a new medical condition.
- Other medical conditions and tamsulosin: You should tell your doctor about allergic reactions to drugs.
You should also notify them if you suffer hypotension, kidney disease, or liver disease. Tamsulosin may make these conditions worse if it is not managed correctly.
- Appropriate use of alpha-blockers: You should take tamsulosin as directed by your doctor. Do not take it longer or more often than your doctor prescribed.
Check your reaction to tamsulosin before you drive or use heavy machines. You should seek immediate medical help if you experience a prolonged erection while on tamsulosin.
- Storage of tamsulosin: Always store tamsulosin away from heat, moisture, and keep out of the reach of children. Ask your medical provider how you should dispose of outdated or unused ones.
- Monitoring treatment response: To ensure your medication is working correctly; your doctor must check your response to tamsulosin. You should inform your medical provider if you experience side-effects.
Safety of Tamsulosin
Several studies have investigated the tolerability of 0.4 mg tamsulosin hydrochloride taken once daily. It was found to be generally similar to placebo (Michel et al., 1998).
The rate of abnormal ejaculation is higher in tamsulosin treatment (Michel et al., 1998). You may experience erectile and ejaculation problems due to tamsulosin.
Parallel disease or hypertensive drugs can reduce the safety of tamsulosin. Your tolerance may be worse if you have another illness or take blood pressure drugs.
Tamsulosin mediated blood pressure reductions may require careful monitoring by your doctor. Rarely, erectile problems may develop, requiring immediate medical intervention.
How effective is Tamsulosin?
Prostate symptom score and post-void urine volume are usually used to monitor the severity and response to BPH treatment.
Treatment with 0.4mg tamsulosin hydrochloride once daily has been shown to reduce prostate symptom score and post-void urine volume (Dunn et al., 2002; Michel et al., 1998).
BPH severity increases with age, but the positive effect of tamsulosin is invariant to age groups (Roehrborn and Siegel, 1996). Similarly, patients with different levels of BPH symptoms also benefit from tamsulosin treatment.
However, while tamsulosin improves urinary symptoms, it does not treat underlying prostate growth.
Combination therapy with 5-alpha reductase inhibitors or surgery is needed to shrink or remove the prostate gland.
These additional treatment options present further side effects. You should consult with your medical team if your symptoms persist.
What happens if you just stop taking tamsulosin?
BPH is a progressive disease, making timely treatment essential for reducing its progression.
Stopping your medications without proper consultation could increase your risk of developing severe complications.
Further, stopping treatment may cause erectile dysfunction. This is as untreated BPH may impair your sexual function.
You should seek medical help if you are concerned about the side effects of tamsulosin before stopping. Your healthcare provider can help you switch to an alternative treatment.
What should be avoided while taking tamsulosin
Tamsulosin may impair your thinking and alertness. It can also cause dizziness or drowsiness, resulting in falls and accidents. Therefore you should avoid;
- Risky activities that require you to be alert. For example, driving and handling heavy machines.
- Getting up too fast to reduce the risk of falls.
- Standing for long periods at a time.
- Extremely hot environments or becoming overheated during exercise
Natural ways to maintain prostate health
You can take action to relieve BPH symptoms without medication or surgery. Lifestyle changes are the best way to reduce the risk of BPH. Regular physical activity and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of developing BPH and its progression.
- Healthy diet: Evidence suggests that a low-fat diet rich in fruit and vegetables can lower your risk of prostate conditions.
- Plant-based foods: Including tomatoes, walnuts, omega-3 fatty fish, and pomegranate juice can improve your prostate health.
- Physical activity: Sedentary lifestyle and weight gain can increase your risk of many health conditions. This includes BPH, prostate cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
- Obesity: Can also affect your quality of life through psychological problems like depression. Regular physical activity is critical for maintaining a healthy prostate.
Studies have shown that lower daily calorie intake and regular exercise can reduce your risk of BPH. Interestingly, healthy weight is beneficial in reducing urinary symptoms of BPH.
How much physical activity should you do for prostate health?
Aim to maintain to perform moderate to vigorous exercise for at least thirty minutes per day.
Generally, a higher rate of exercise is associated with more health benefits. There is a relationship between exercise and BPH symptoms, even in low to moderate physical activity like walking.
If you already show signs of BPH, there are natural ways to improve your symptoms. In some cases, the usual treatment with tamsulosin does not always work effectively.
Thus, lifestyle changes and natural supplements may be the best to improve your symptoms.
It can be challenging to get all your prostate nutritional needs from food, especially if you aged 65 and above.
Talk to your doctor about taking natural supplements to help maintain a healthy prostate. Prostate supplementation may include:
Vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of BPH as well as other prostate conditions. Studies that assigned men with vitamin D supplementation reported decreased prostate volume compared to the placebo group.
Increasing your intake of Vitamin D can reduce inflammation. This, in turn, reduces your risk of prostate cancer and the development of metastatic prostate cancer. A randomized study found that vitamin D supplementation reduces the growth of prostate tumors (Posadzki et al., 2013).
How much vitamin D do you need?
Vitamin D deficiency is usually classified as having less than 12 ng/ml of blood vitamin D levels. Levels below 30 ng/ml will be too low to sustain healthy prostate and general wellbeing.
Some men will be able to get enough vitamin D from diet and sunlight alone.
This is dependent on their skin color and the time of year. Others may need to make lifestyle changes, including taking supplements to achieve healthy vitamin D levels.
Lycopene is a natural carotenoid found in red fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing prostate conditions.
A randomized study investigated the effects of lycopene supplementation in 40 men diagnosed with BPH. Results showed that lycopene decreased PSA levels and inhibited the progression of BPH (Schwarz et al., 2008).
However, some studies have reported no effect of lycopene supplementation (Schwarz, 2008).
Tomato intake providing about 30 mg of lycopene reduces PSA in men with prostate cancer (Chen, 2001; Paur, 2017).
These benefits were exerted from lycopene from whole foods rather than as an extract. It is likely that lycopene from whole foods exerts health benefits than may not occur with an extract.
Tamsulosin (Flomax) has been shown to help relieve lower urinary tract symptoms (luts) associated with an enlarged prostate.
However, although it works to block the activity of α-adrenergic receptors, which primarily mediate smooth muscle contraction, it has severe side effects.
Before taking Tamsulosin, discuss these potential effects with your doctor. You can take action to relieve BPH symptoms without medication or surgery.
Lifestyle changes, including regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and natural supplements can reduce the risk of developing BPH and its progression.