What is Alfuzosin?
Alfuzosin is a beta blocker that is commonly prescribed for men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). With BPH, an enlarged prostate puts pressure on the bladder, causing difficulty urinating, a weak stream, and strong, frequent urges to urinate. Alfuzosin does not shrink the enlarged gland; it relieves these symptoms by relaxing the smooth muscle in the bladder and prostate gland. Doctors may also prescribe it to help patients pass kidney stones. Although it is a beta blocker, it should not be prescribed for heart conditions.
Alfuzosin is available in immediate release and extended release tablets. It is prescribed generically as alfuzosin or alfuzosin HCL. Brand names include Uroxatral or Xatral.
Determining whether alfuzosin is right for you
Alfuzosin is only prescribed for men. Insufficient studies exist to determine whether it is safe for women to use. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and women of childbearing age should not take it. The use of alfuzosin in children has not been studied. Another medication may be a better choice for pediatric patients.
Certain medical conditions may prevent you from safely using alfuzosin. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you have any known allergies to food, medications, or other substances. Alfuzosin may not work well for you if you have chest pain, low blood pressure, frequent dizziness or fainting or a family history of heart problems. Let your current doctor know if you have kidney or liver disease, cancer or other prostate issues.
Alfuzosin and cataract surgery
You may need to temporarily stop using alfuzosin if you are planning on having cataract surgery or another eye procedure. Cataract surgery patients taking this medication have experienced Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS) during the procedure. If you have taken alfuzosin within the past couple of months, let your current eye doctor know.
Getting regular medical care
Because of the way alfuzosin can affect your body, your health should be monitored while you are taking it. Your current doctor may order laboratory tests, monitor your blood pressure, and perform regular prostate exams.
Although benign prostatic hyperplasia does not indicate the presence of prostate cancer, the two conditions can coexist. Having regular prostate exams can detect prostate cancer earlier and provide you with more treatment options.
Avoiding medication interactions
Some medications can affect the way alfuzosin works or increase the likelihood of severe side effects. Tell your current doctor or pharmacist if you are already taking
- Alpha blockers, like prazosin
- Amiodarone, an antiarrhythmic
- Azole antifungals, such as ketoconazole
- HIV protease inhibitors, like ritonavir
- Macrolide antibiotics, such as erythromycin
- Nefazodone, an antidepressant
- Nitrates, like nitroglycerin
- Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, prescribed for erectile dysfunction
- Telithromycin, a ketolide antibiotic used to treat bacterial pneumonia
This is not a complete list of drugs that may have negative interactions with alfuzosin. You can talk to an Expert if you have questions about your current medication list.
Minimizing side effects
Most patients who take alfuzosin experience minimal or no side effects. The most common ones include dizziness, drowsiness, feeling tired, headache, stomach pain, or a stuffy or a runny nose. Talk to your current medical provider if these symptoms persist or bother you.
Reducing fatigue and lightheadedness
It can take some time to get used to the way alfuzosin affects your body. To minimize stomach discomfort, take your medicine with a meal or snack. You may want to take your first few doses right before bedtime each night. This strategy can help reduce dizziness and fatigue during the day.
Move slowly to minimize dizziness when you get up after lying down. First, navigate to a sitting position and give yourself time to adjust. When you are ready, try getting up and moving around. Older men may be more prone to this side effect, so add extra time to your routine.
Alfuzosin may cause QT prolongation, a condition that affects heart rhythms. Although this condition is rarely fatal, you should seek medical attention right away. QT prolongation symptoms include a fast or irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, and fainting.
Low blood levels of potassium or magnesium can increase your risk of QT prolongation. The risk is higher if you use diuretics, commonly called “water pills.” Excessive sweating, vomiting or diarrhea can cause magnesium and potassium levels to fluctuate. If you are sick or working in hot weather, ask a medical provider how to use alfuzosin safely.
Severe side effects
Rarely, alfuzosin can cause a painful erection that may last more than four hours. If you experience priapism, go to the nearest emergency room. Avoiding treatment for this condition can cause permanent sexual problems like impotence.
You should also seek immediate medical attention if you have an allergic reaction to this medication. Symptoms include hives, wheezing, itching, a swollen throat or tongue, and difficulty breathing. Other reasons for getting emergency help include
- Back or chest pain
- Dark urine or pale stools
- Fever, chills, or a persistent sore throat
- Severe or ongoing dizziness
- Yellow skin or eyes
- Severe or persistent stomach pain
Avoiding an overdose
Most alfuzosin prescriptions are for 10-milligram extended release tablets, taken once daily. Your exact dosage and medication schedule will depend on the underlying condition your current doctor is treating. Take missed doses as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time for your next pill. In this case, skip the missed dose. Doubling your dose can cause an overdose.
Elderly patients may be more prone to overdose. They do not eliminate the medication from their system as quickly as younger men. Symptoms of an overdose include fainting or an irregular heartbeat. If you suspect that a patient has overdosed, call 911 immediately.
Following dietary recommendations
Ingesting grapefruit or grapefruit juice when taking alfuzosin may increase your risk of serious side effects. Ask a Medical Expert or your current doctor for alternatives to these foods.
Alcohol and tobacco
Using alcohol while taking this medication can intensify side effects like dizziness, fatigue, and lightheadedness. Drink alcohol sparingly or avoid it altogether when taking alfuzosin.
Tobacco does not directly interact with alfuzosin. However, nicotine does irritate the bladder, which can increase the symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland. If you smoke, cutting down or quitting can help your medication do its job more effectively.
Getting information when you need it
There are many factors to consider before taking alfuzosin. You can talk to an Expert if you need more information about this medication. Verified medical professionals are available after hours and weekends. Your anonymous, one-on-one conversation can take place in the comfort of your home.
Experts do not provide emergency medical care. If you or a loved one are experiencing serious or life-threatening side effects, please call 911 immediately.