If you have ever had kidney stones, then you know what pain really is. A few months ago, after I had completed doing some yard work, a sharp pain started in my lower back area. Of course, my first thought was that I pulled my back. Keep in mind, I don’t have a history of back pain. Maybe I overexerted since yardwork is not a daily occurrence. The pain began to come in waves which made it difficult to breathe and move. My wife had given birth and luckily I attended all the classes about breathing deeply. Since honesty is the best policy, it seemed like I was having contractions and in labor. I tried to walk it off to manage the pain and even massage it but no luck. This pain continued all night and I struggled to control my emotions. I did manage to get a few hours of sleep prior to going to the doctor.
A funny thing happened after a short nap, the pain went away. The contractions stopped and I could move freely about. I still was going to the doctor since I needed something in case it came back. Once the doctor examined me, my first thought was a pulled muscle or nerve. But when his lips blurted kidney stones, I was is sort of shock. My family had no history of kidney stones and I do watch my salt content. Turns out, that I managed to get dehydrated working on the back yard and my kidney stones let me know that they existed. To make sure that these kidney stones passed, I was given a prescription for Tamsulosin (#tamsulosin).
As I looked at my prescription, the brand name was Flomax but the active ingredient is Tamsulosin HCl. It turns out that this prescription drug is used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which means an non cancerous enlargement of the prostate. It is also used for helping to pass kidney stones as well as to help empty out the bladder when one can’t do it alone.
Tamsulosin works is by relaxing bladder neck muscles and muscle fibers in the prostate so you can urinate more freely. In science terms, Tamsulosin is an alpha blocker. When alpha 1 receptors in the bladder and prostate are blocked, this causes a relaxation in smooth muscle and therefore less resistance to urinary flow. The most common prescription is for Tamsulosin 0.4 mg capsules. If this medication doesn’t work then you need different medical treatment options such as Lithotripsy (ESWL) which uses shock waves and ureteroscope which is inserted through the urinary tract.
First lets define what a kidney stone is. It is a solid piece of material that forms in your kidney and leaves with urine through the urinary tract. Most stones are so small that they pass without anyone ever noticing them. Now if a stone gets big enough, say about 5 mm (0.2 inches), it will block the ureter which are tubes made of smooth muscle fibers that moves urine to the urinary bladder from the kidneys. Once you get this blockage, that is when you get severe pain in the lower back or abdomen. A stone can also cause blood in the urine (no, your pee won’t turn red), vomiting or a lot of pain while urinating.
Stones form in the kidneys when certain minerals are at a high concentration. These mineral include calcium, uric acid, struvite (magnesium ammonium phoshate) and cysteine (common in foods such as meat, eggs, dairy, and whole grains). Eating healthy is nice but they can also be formed due to a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Here are some things you have to consider if you think you are at risk. If you have high calcium in your urine, are obese or take too many calcium supplements, you are going to get them. If you have gout like me or get dehydrated, stones will form.
Flomax Side Effects
Now comes the worry for most patients in terms of Tamsulosin side effects. First, lets begin with the easier common side effects such as hypotension which is low blood pressure. Then there are increased risks to allergic reactions which can include mild dizziness or drowsiness even insomnia, headaches, nausea and diarrhea. There can also be instances of blurred vision and some minor dental pain. The most serious side effects include an increase risk to congestive heart failure or other cardiac events.
In men there is a chance for an impact to your sexual function. I am not just saying a decreased sex drive but also abnormal ejaculation called retrograde ejaculation. This happens when semen and other fluids gets redirected into your urinary bladder. This is due to the sphincter not working properly and kicking it back. Fortunately, this can be corrected without medication. All you have to do is exercising the sphincter muscle by practicing a pumping action during ejaculation and urination. Another danger is if you get an erection that lasts more than four hours. At that point, go to an emergency room and stop taking your medication. Hopefully you would have had your fun for the first three hours.
How have you battled kidney stones?