Dear Dr. K –

Dear Dr. K –

Last year my gynecologist started me on Flomax because I feel the need to urinate frequently.  She first gave me Detrol, but that caused severe dry mouth.  The Flomax has worked great and I don’t have to “locate the bathroom first” whenever I go out.  However, since starting it I’ve had sinus congestion that won’t go away.  Are they related?

The short answer is “yes”.  Flomax is one of a number of drugs called an alpha blocker.  Other drugs in the same category are Uroxatral, Doxazosin, Rapaflo and Terazosin.

Alpha refers to one side of the Yin/Yang dynamic of the autonomic(sympathetic) nervous system.  The complimentary component is Beta.  Most parts of our bodies are under control of the alpha/beta system including smooth muscles.

Many women with urinary frequency and many men with the same problem due to enlargement of the prostate benefit by relaxing the smooth muscles in the bladder/prostate area.  Alpha stimulation constricts smooth muscles, thus an “alpha blocker” allows them to relax.

Unfortunately for you, smooth muscles are also formed in blood vessels. When Flomax relaxes the smooth muscle in the blood vessels in your nose/sinus area, the blood vessels dilate.  This “tumescence” is what causes the sinus congestion.  In some people it can also cause a runny nose, post nasal drip, cough, headache and even a tendency to sinusitis.

Alpha blockers have also been used to treat high blood pressure.  They accomplish this by the vessel-dilating mechanism, thus lowering hydraulic pressure.

Since you didn’t tolerate the other family of bladder medicines (Detrol family), you might ask your gynecologist about either Botox or DDAVP (works via a pituitary hormone).

Comments are closed.