Harvard Perspectives on Prostate Disease

Your benign prostatic hyperplasia medication: When to consider a change

A look at treatment options and trade-offs

If you are like many of the 14 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), you've probably been taking the same medication, at the same dose, for years. If so, consider the experiences of two patients, both of whom were taking some type of medication for BPH. Their names have been changed, but all other details are accurate (see "Jack Muriel" and "Henry Banks").

Jack Muriel

At 64, Jack was taking tamsulosin (Flomax) for moderate BPH but otherwise was in good health. Recently retired, he looked forward to a weekly round of golf with friends at a local country club. One evening, while driving home to meet his wife for dinner, Jack suddenly became lightheaded. He felt as if he were about to faint. He managed to pull the car over to the side of the road and call for help. While dialing, he thought, "Maybe I shouldn't have taken the Viagra and Flomax at the same time."

Henry Banks

At 77, Henry was generally in good health, but had been taking terazosin (Hytrin) for his BPH for years. At one point, after Henry experienced a bout of unexplained abdominal pain, his internist ordered an abdominal CT scan to determine the problem. As instructed by the radiology department, Henry drank large quantities of water before the procedure. The CT scan itself went fine, but afterward, Henry found he could not urinate, even though his bladder was full. Instead of returning home after the CT scan, Henry wound up in the emergency room, where he had to have a catheter inserted.

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