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Tamsulosin (Flomax)

Reviewed by Dr Tom BracewellReviewed on 27.01.2023 | 2 minutes read
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Tamsulosin is a medicine commonly associated with prostate issues. It is used in men to treat urinary retention (difficulty passing urine) or inadequate urination (not fully emptying your bladder when you go). Commonly this is caused by an enlarged prostate, medically termed benign prostatic hyperplasia.

It is available to buy over the counter as Flomax but may also be prescribed by your doctor.

Who is it for?

It is available to buy for men aged 45-75, who have experienced urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate for the past 3 months. Your pharmacist may supply you with a 2-week supply to trial first, after which a further 4-week supply can be made if symptoms improve. If you have bought tamsulosin over the counter, you should let your doctor know this within 6 weeks of starting it. This is so your doctor can assess if it is still needed and appropriate to continue with. Your doctor can prescribe this for you in the future or authorise you to purchase it for use.

How does it work?

Tamsulosin is described as an alpha-blocker. This means it blocks alpha-adrenoreceptors, a specific type of receptor common in the autonomic nervous system. It causes the relaxation of muscles in the prostate and urethra, making it easier to urinate. It aims to produce a fast and continuous flow of urine, and allow the taker to empty their bladder fully.

Should anybody not take it?

Tamsulosin should not be used if there is pain during urination or cloudiness of the urine. See your doctor If this is the case. Tamsulosin should be avoided in those with an allergy to tamsulosin or any other ingredients listed. It should also be avoided if you are taking any of the following medicines: alpha-blockers, PDE-4 inhibitors, verapamil, warfarin, diclofenac, or certain antibiotics/antifungals. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure.

Are there any side effects?

Tamsulosin may cause low blood pressure or sudden blood pressure drops. This is most common when starting treatment. Feeling lightheaded or dizzy are signs of low blood pressure. If this happens sit or lie down somewhere safe and comfortable until it passes, then get up slowly afterwards. To avoid blood pressure drops, do not drink alcohol or take with any other medicines that can lower blood pressure like sildenafil (Viagra), or doxazosin (a blood pressure medication).

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Reviewed by Dr Tom BracewellReviewed on 27.01.2023
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