Alpha Blockers for Prostatitis
What Are They?
Alpha blockers for prostatitis are prescribed for all symptomatic types of prostatitis. Alpha blockers may help with lower urinary symptoms associated with bacterial and nonbacterial types of prostatitis and can help with pain and discomfort associated with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS).
Alpha blockers for prostatitis may include:
- Flomax (tamsulosin)
- Uroxatral (alfuzosin)
- Rapaflo (silodosin)
- Hytrin (terazosin)
- Cardura (doxasozin)
Alpha blockers are usually prescribed to help with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) for enlarged prostate, called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). These drugs work by relaxing the muscles in the prostate and the neck of the bladder so that urine flows more easily. alpha blockers are usually prescribed for men who have moderate to severe BPH symptoms. The ability of alpha blockers to help with urine voiding also leads to less pressure and less inflammation, which may result in less prostate pain for the patient. These benefits are why alpha blockers are also prescribed for prostatitis patients. Also, since it is estimated that one in five patients with BPH may also suffer from prostatitis, alpha blockers could help those patients who have both conditions.
While there is not much data regarding use of alpha blockers for acute bacterial prostatitis, anecdotal evidence suggests that alpha blockers for prostatitis can be helpful if the patient experiences obstructive voiding symptoms. For chronic bacterial prostatitis, patients usually take antibiotics long term. Combining alpha blockers with antibiotics may improve the therapy and reduce the risk of recurrence compared to taking just antibiotics. A retrospective and uncontrolled study found that alpha blockers combined with antibiotics significantly reduced both clinical and bacteriologic recurrence of chronic bacterial prostatitis.
Alpha blockers have been shown to be superior to a placebo for helping men with CP/CPPS improve their quality of life by helping with pain and LUTS. However, the studies are all uncontrolled and did not have a validated symptom index, so their results are a little confusing and not easily comparable to each other. Most of the studies did seem to agree that patients did not start to see symptom relief until after six weeks of treatment, so alpha blockers for prostatitis are not a quick fix therapy.
There are several side effects associated with the use of alpha blockers. Side effects of some alpha blockers for prostatitis may include dizziness, vertigo, insomnia, runny or stuffy nose, headache, blurred vision, chest pain, or sleepiness. Some of the drugs, such as Flomax, can cause sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, reduce sperm count, reduced semen volume, ejaculation problems, and abnormal orgasm. Some of these effects can last months or years after you stop taking the medication. Sometimes priapism can occur. This is a painful erection that can last over four hours. If this occurs, see a doctor immediately or you could suffer permanent damage.
Any time your doctor prescribes a medication, you should find out about possible side effects. Learn as much as you can to make an informed decision, and find out if there are any natural therapies, such as supplements or other natural treatments, that have fewer side effects that could be used instead. For example, one supplement that has been shown in studies to be as effective as alpha blockers for symptoms of BPH is saw palmetto. A long-term study that had patients take either saw palmetto berry extract or Flomax (tamsulosin) for 12 months found that both groups experienced similar improvements in urinary symptoms and quality of life. The saw palmetto group also had the benefit of prostate volume decrease slightly. The saw palmetto group did not experience ejaculation disorders that were more common in the Flomax group.