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If you’ve been prescribed tamsulosin (brand name Flomax) for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), you might want to know more about potential tamsulosin side effects. Although studies show that tamsulosin is a safe and effective medication, all drugs can have the potential for adverse effects. Some tamsulosin side effects include dizziness, headaches, priapism, low blood pressure, and more. Continue reading to learn more about the medication.
What is tamsulosin?
Tamsulosin (brand name Flomax) is part of a class of medications known as alpha-blockers (α-blockers). The medication is FDA-approved to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate. This is a common condition that affects about half of all men between the ages of 51 and 60 and over 70% of men older than 60.
The prostate gland is located at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ureter (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body via the penis). As the prostate gets larger, it can put pressure on the urethra, leading to lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). A classic symptom of BPH is needing to pee more often, especially at night.
Other symptoms of BPH include difficulty starting urination, weak urine flow, straining when urinating, and starting/stopping frequently during urination. Tamsulosin helps relax the muscles of the prostate and bladder. This can allow the urethra to expand and improve the flow of urine, alleviating urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate.
Other examples of alpha blockers include prazosin (brand name Minipress), silodosin (brand name Rapaflo), alfuzosin (brand name Uroxatral), terazosin (brand name Hytrin), and doxazosin (brand name Cardura).
Tamsulosin side effects
Common side effects of tamsulosin include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Runny nose, stuffy nose, or other “common cold” symptoms
- Abnormal ejaculation, such as ejaculation failure
- Intraoperative floppy iris syndrome (can occur during cataract surgery or glaucoma surgery)
Serious side effects of tamsulosin can include:
- Chest pain (angina)
- Low blood pressure or fainting (syncope), especially when standing from a sitting position (also known as orthostatic hypotension)
- A severe allergic reaction with skin rash, swelling, and trouble breathing; if you have a history of an allergy to sulfonamide (“sulfa”) drugs, you may also have an allergic reaction to tamsulosin
Tamsulosin also has potential drug interactions with several different medications, including PDE5 inhibitors used to treat erectile dysfunction and drugs that block the liver enzymes needed to break down tamsulosin. Let your healthcare provider know if you’re taking any other medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Tamsulosin side effects in elderly people
In the last few years, there’s been some controversy about whether tamsulosin increases the risk of dementia in the elderly.
A 2018 study examined Medicare data about men taking tamsulosin over a period of six years (2006-2012). The researchers found that taking tamsulosin may increase the risk of developing dementia.
However, a 2019 study pointed out several limitations of the study mentioned above. Using records from the National Health Insurance Database, South Korean researchers looked for a connection between α-blocker use and dementia inKorean adults with BPH between 2011 and 2017—they didn’t find one. The authors concluded that benign prostatic hyperplasia medication is not associated with a risk of dementia. It does not seem that tamsulosin definitively increases the risk of dementia in the elderly, but more research is needed.
Tamsulosin side effects long term
A study looking at the long-term safety and effectiveness of tamsulosin in men who took tamsulosin for six years found that some of the most common adverse effects included infection, accidental injury, runny nose, pain, and sore throat. Other reported side effects included abnormal ejaculation, syncope, and orthostatic hypotension. Interestingly, participants’ side effects declined over the six-year period, with the highest levels occurring in the first two years of treatment.
In summary, people taking tamsulosin to treat BPH urinary symptoms continued to have safe and well-tolerated relief of their symptoms for up to six years.
Flomax side effects after stopping
If you stop taking tamsulosin (brand name Flomax) for a few days, talk with a healthcare provider before starting again. Your provider may have you restart at the lowest dose to prevent side effects.
If you experience any symptoms of BPH, it’s important to make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They will help you develop a safe and effective treatment plan to relieve your symptoms.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- American Urology Association (AUA). (2021). Urology Care Foundation: What is benign prostatic hyperplasia? Retrieved from https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/benign-prostatic-hyperplasia-(bph)
- Duan, Y., Grady, J. J., Albertsen, P. C., et al. (2018). Tamsulosin and the risk of dementia in older men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 27(3), 340–348. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/pds.4361. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29316005/
- DailyMed. (2021). Tamsulosin hydrochloride capsule. Retrieved from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=339c3b57-a339-4578-bfd7-46b25d911ff6
- Narayan, P. & Tunuguntla, H. S. (2005). Long-term efficacy and safety of tamsulosin for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Reviews in Urology, 7 Suppl 4(Suppl 4), S42–S48. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1477608/
- Tae, B., Bum Sik Tae Department of Urology, Jeon, B., et al. (2019). α-Blocker and risk of dementia in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a nationwide population based study using the national health insurance service database. The Journal of Urology, 202(2), 362–368. doi:10.1097/JU.0000000000000209Retrieved from https://www.auajournals.org/doi/10.1097/JU.0000000000000209
Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.