What men over 50 need to know about the symptoms and treatment of an enlarged prostate.

If you are a man over the age of 50 and have had concerns about trouble urinating, or are finding that you need to make several trips to the washroom in the middle of the night, there is a chance you may have Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), otherwise known as an enlarged prostate.  BPH is a condition where the prostate enlarges, blocking the flow of urine through the urethra.   

An enlarged prostate is not related to cancer, is not cancer, and does not put you at risk for prostate cancer.  With an enlarged prostate, the testicles still function normally.

The American Urological Association (AUA) says that BPH is the most common prostate problem for men over 50 and that by age 60 more than half of the men have BPH, and over 90% of men have it by age 85.

What causes prostate enlargement?

It is believed that testosterone levels, as well as aging and cellular changes in the testicles,  lead to an enlarged prostate. As the prostate enlarges the bladder needs to contract with more force to push urine through the body.  This extra pressure, over time, makes the bladder walls thicker, stronger and very sensitive, creating contractions when there is even a small amount of urine in the bladder.  Because the urethra is narrowed, not all of the urine is passed out of the bladder.

What are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate?

It is important to note that not every man with an enlarged prostate will have symptoms.  Common symptoms include:

  • Weak urine stream
  • Sudden urge to urinate
  • Delayed start of the urine stream
  • Frequent urination, including two or more times during the night
  • Incontinence
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • Urinary retention (inability to urinate)
  • Extended dribbling at the end of urinating
  • Pain or blood in the urine may indicate an infection is present

What is the treatment for an enlarged prostate?

Your doctor will want to run some medical tests to determine what the reason for your prostate enlargement is.  Common tests are:

  • Cystoscopy
  • Blood urine nitrogen (BUN)
  • Creatinine test
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test (checks for prostate cancer)
  • Urine culture and urinalysis (to check for infections)
  • Pressure-flow study
  • Urine flow rate test
  • Post-void residual urine test (to see how much urine is left in the bladder after urination)
  • Digital rectal exam (to feel the prostate gland)

Treatment for enlarged prostate may include lifestyle changes, surgery or prescription medications, such as prescription Flomax® (tamsulosin).

How does Flomax® (tamsulosin) work?

Flomax® (tamsulosin) is a prescription medication known as an alpha-blocker used to treat the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.   It is also prescribed to treat stones in the urinary tract.

This medication relaxes the muscles of the bladder and the prostate, which helps relieve uncomfortable symptoms of BPH, including a weak urine stream, trouble beginning urination, and the frequent urge to urinate.

How is Flomax® (tamsulosin) prescribed?

For the treatment of symptoms associated with BPH, Flomax® (tamsulosin) is usually taken once a day, and the dose is based upon your current medical condition and how well you respond to this medication.   It should be taken at the same time each day. Most patients begin this medication at the recommended dose and if needed, the medication may be increased according to your doctor’s orders. Should you miss taking a dose of Flomax® (tamsulosin), speak to your doctor or pharmacist about how to best handle the missed dose.  Flomax® (tamsulosin) is available in the following strengths:

Brand-name Flomax® CR tablets – 0.4 mg

Generic tamsulosin capsules – 0.4 mg

Generic tamsulosin CR tablets – 0.4 mg

What are the side effects of Flomax® (tamsulosin)?

This medication may cause an unexpected drop in blood pressure.  If you have not taken your prescription Flomax® (tamsulosin) for a while it is important to speak to your doctor before restarting it on your own.

Other side effects some patients experience include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble ejaculating

On rare occasion some men may experience a prolonged or painful erection lasting up to 4 hours or more. If this side effect occurs,  discontinue the medication and seek medical help as soon as possible.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects.  Speak to your pharmacist about what side effects you may encounter while taking prescription Flomax® (tamsulosin).

Before taking Flomax® (tamsulosin) tell your doctor if you have or have had any of the following conditions:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts

Also, tell your doctor that you are taking this medication if you plan to have any surgery or dental work.

What lifestyle changes can be implemented to Lifestyle tips for living with an enlarged prostate?

Many men only have mild discomfort and/or symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate, and may benefit from self-care lifestyle changes such as the following:

  • Make scheduled trips to the washroom, even if you don’t feel the need to urinate at the time.
  • Don’t avoid going to the washroom. When you feel the urge to go – go!
  • Avoid alcohol and/or caffeine
  • Avoid drinking liquids 2 hours before bed.
  • Avoid drinking a lot of liquid in one sitting.
  • Avoid over the counter cold and sinus medications that contain antihistamines or decongestants.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety where possible.
  • Practice Kegel exercises

Was this article helpful?  Read the following related articles

Control overactive bladder with Mybetriq

How to do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles

If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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