Alfuzosin (Oral)

Alfuzosin works by relaxing the prostate and bladder muscles to make urination easier, and to decrease the symptoms of BPH.

Overview

As men get older, benign enlargement of the prostate is one of the problems they might develop. As the prostate gland, located below the bladder, enlarges, some muscles in the gland may tighten and partially block the passage of the tube through which urine from the bladder is drained. This can bring about a host of problems with urinating, such as painful urination, increased urgency and frequency of urination, weak urine stream, and a feeling of not being able to completely empty urine from the bladder.

Taking alfuzosin helps relax the prostate muscles and bladder opening. This helps improve the flow of urine, while relieving the symptoms. Alfuzosin will not shrink the prostate. The prostate may actually continue to enlarge, and the patient's symptoms could get worse over time. This means that surgery may eventually be required, even though this medication will help relieve the symptoms causing the enlargement of the bladder.

The medicine is given only to men; it is not normally prescribed to women or children. Additionally, this drug is available only with a doctor's prescription.

Conditions treated:

  • Enlarged prostate
  • Stones in urinary tract

Type of medicine:

  • Alpha blockers

Side effects

Besides bringing about the desired effects, Alfuzosin may be responsible for certain unwanted effects. Not all of these side effects are likely to be experienced, but when any of them occur, the patient is advised to get medical help as soon as possible.

Lightheadedness or dizziness are some of the common side effects reported. The patient should tell their pharmacist or doctor if either of these side affects persist or become worse. To lower the risk of lightheadedness and dizziness, patients are advised to get up slowly when rising from a lying or sitting position.

Usually, doctors will prescribe this medication only after determining that the benefits of taking it outweigh the risks of with side effects. Many people who use Alfuzosin do not experience serious side effects. Some side effects, however, can be quite serious. The patient should stop taking the medication and seek medical attention immediately if any of these side effects occur:

  • Rash
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Fainting
  • Fast/irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble with swallowing or breathing
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, lower legs or ankles
  • Swollen, eyes, throat, lips, tongue

Rarely, the patient may develop a painful and prolonged erection, which could last four or more hours. If and when this occurs, they must stop using this drug and seek medical attention immediately, otherwise permanent problems could occur.

Some of the side effects of Alfuzosin may not require medical attention. The patient should have a discussion with their doctor on the various ways to minimize or prevent these side effects. They should be sure to check with their doctor if the side effects below persist, or if they need further clarification about them:

Common:

  • Dizziness

Less common:

  • Body aches or pain
  • Congestion
  • Abdominal/stomach pain
  • Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • Trouble breathing
  • Difficulty having bowel movements
  • Belching
  • Sour/acidic stomach
  • Indigestion
  • Cough
  • Cough producing mucus
  • Soreness/dryness of the throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Heartburn
  • Fever
  • Ear congestion
  • Headache
  • Inability to get or sustain an erection
  • Loss in sexual, desire, drive, ability or performance
  • Nasal congestion
  • Loss of voice
  • Voice changes
  • Tenderness or pain around the eyes and cheekbones
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Tender, swollen glands in the neck
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Unusual tiredness/weakness
  • Wheezing

Serious allergic reactions to this drug are rare. The patient should, however, seek medical attention immediately for any of these symptoms of an allergic reaction: rash, swelling, itching, dizziness and trouble breathing.

Other side effects not listed here may also occur in some patients. Patients are advised to check with their doctor as soon as possible if they experience any other side effects.

Dosage

Before taking alfuzosin, it is important to read through the patient information leaflet provided by the pharmacist. Should the patient have any questions, or need more information, they should consult their pharmacist or doctor.

To get the most benefits, the patient should make sure they take the medication at about the same time every day. However, it is worth noting that the dosing information provided here is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor.

The patient should take alfuzosin by mouth as directed by their healthcare professional. For benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the usual dosage is 10 mg, once a day after a meal. Alfuzosin works best when taken after a meal; the medicine may not work so well if the patient takes it on an empty stomach.

How to take alfuzosin

Patients should not crush or chew the extended release tablets. Doing so effectively releases the drug contents at once, which increases the risk of side effects. In addition, the patient must not split the tablets unless he has a score line and the pharmacist or doctor tells him to do so.

Alfuzosin has been reported to cause a sudden drop in the patient's blood pressure, which may lead to dizziness or fainting, typically within a few hours of taking. The risk is highest when a patient starts treatment with the drug, or when they restart treatment after they stop taking it. Patients are, therefore, advised to avoid being in situations where they could get injured if they faint. To avoid the possibility of injury from dizziness or fainting, the healthcare professional may tell their patient to take their first dose of this medication with food at bedtime, so that the body can adjust to its effects.

Medical/lab tests should be performed regularly to monitor the patient's progress, as well as to check for side effects. Patients should inform their doctor if the condition fails to improve or becomes worse.

Missed dose

If the patient misses a dose, they should take it immediately upon remembering. However, they should return to the regular schedule if it's nearly time for the next scheduled dose. The patient should not attempt to make up for a missed dose by double dosing.

Overdose

Emergency medical attention should be sought immediately if an overdose is suspected. The national poison hotline for US residents is 1-800-222-1222. Residents in Canada can call their local poison center directly. Symptoms of overdosing may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea

Major drug interactions

Drug interactions could affect how the medication functions in the body, or increase the risk of serious side effects occurring. Although there are medications that should not be used together, there may be cases where they may be used together, even if an interaction is expected. In such cases, the doctor may alter the dosage or advise certain precautions. When taking alfuzosin, it is very important for patients to tell their doctor if they are using any of the drugs that are highlighted below.

This is not necessarily an exhaustive list of all the interactions that could occur. Patients are advised to keep a list of products they use, including prescription and nonprescription drugs, as well as supplements and herbal products. This information is crucial to the doctor as they prepare the patient's prescription.

Some of the products that may interact with alfuzosin include other alpha blockers (drugs such as terazosin and prazosin). If the patient is taking some other medication to treat erectile dysfunction or pulmonary hypertension (like sildenafil and tadalafil), their blood pressure may drop too low, leading to dizziness or fainting. The doctor may need to adjust the patient's prescriptions in order to minimize this risk.

It is not recommended to use alfuzosin with any of the following drugs except under special circumstances, as determined by the doctor. In some instances, the doctor may decide against prescribing this medication or they may alter the dose for the other drugs the patient is taking:

  • Amifampridine
  • Amisulpride
  • Atazanavir
  • Darunavir
  • Boceprevir
  • Cisapride
  • Cobicistat
  • Bepridil
  • Clarithromycin
  • Dronedarone
  • Fluconazole
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Conivaptan
  • Itraconazole
  • Lopinavir
  • Indinavir
  • Mesoridazine
  • Idelalisib
  • Ketoconazole
  • Nelfinavir
  • Posaconazole
  • Ritonavir
  • Piperaquine
  • Saquinavir
  • Telaprevir
  • Telithromycin
  • Sparfloxacin
  • Terfenadine
  • Pimozide
  • Tipranavir
  • Ziprasidone
  • Thioridazine

Using alfuzosin together with any of the following drugs may increase the risk of some side effects, even though the combination might be the best therapy for the patient. If the doctor has to prescribe both medications together, they may change dosages or the frequency of taking one or both medicines:

  • Acebutolol
  • Alprenolol
  • Atenolol
  • Betaxolol
  • Bevantolol
  • Bisoprolol
  • Bucindolol
  • Carteolol
  • Carvedilol
  • Celiprolol
  • Dilevalol
  • Diltiazem
  • Esmolol
  • Labetalol
  • Levobunolol
  • Mepindolol
  • Metipranolol
  • Metoprolol
  • Nadolol
  • Nebivolol
  • Oxprenolol
  • Penbutolol
  • Pindolol
  • Propranolol
  • Sildenafil
  • Talinolol
  • Tertatolol
  • Timolol
  • Vardenafil

Other interactions

It may be necessary to avoid consumption of certain beverages, foods, or substances around the time of taking certain medications to avoid interactions from occurring. Using tobacco or alcohol in particular with certain medicines may cause interactions. Patients should have a talk with their doctor about the use of alcohol, tobacco or certain foods.

Other medical conditions

The presence of certain other medical problems could affect the functioning of this medicine. Patients should inform their healthcare professional if they suffer from other medical problems, especially:

  • Angina (severe chest pain)
  • A history of heart rhythm problems (e.g. congenital or acquired QT prolongation)
  • Postural hypotension (low blood pressure) - patients should use the drug with caution as it may aggravate the condition.
  • Kidney disease
  • Cataract surgery - Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome (IFIS) is an eye problem that some patients taking this medicine have developed when having cataract surgery. Before surgery, the patient should tell their eye doctor if they are taking or have recently taken alfuzosin.
  • Mild liver disease - patients should use the drug with caution.
  • Moderate or severe liver disease - patients with this condition should not take this medication.

Warnings

The patient should inform their pharmacist or doctor if they are allergic to alfuzosin or any other drugs, or any of the ingredients in the drug. A list of the ingredients can be obtained from the pharmacist.

It is vital that the patient makes regular visits to the doctor to have their progress checked, to ensure that the medicine is working as it should, and to check any problems arising from the use of this medicine.

Alfuzosin may trigger QT prolongation, which is a condition that affects the heart rhythm. This condition will rarely cause serious side effects, such as a fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness or fainting, that requires emergency medical attention. The patient should let the doctor know if they or any other member of their family has an irregular heartbeat, or if they have had a history of angina, chest pain, kidney disease, heart disease, or low blood pressure.

This medication is only prescribed for use in men. Women should not use alfuzosin, particularly if they are pregnant or may get pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If a woman takes alfuzosin while pregnant, she should call a healthcare professional immediately.

You should seek medical attention right away if you experience a prolonged erection. This is an extremely rare side effect, but if it goes untreated, it can result in permanent erectile dysfunction (impotence).

For patients having surgery (dental surgery included), it is important that they tell their doctor or dentist that they are taking alfuzosin. If the patient needs to have eye surgery around the time of treatment with this medication, they should be sure to inform their eye doctor that they are taking or have recently taken alfuzosin.

Patients are advised to avoid driving or working on tasks that require alertness, until they observe how alfuzosin affects them.

Patients should beware that this medication could cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting, especially when getting up too quickly from a sitting or lying position. This is more common when they first start taking the medication. To lower the chances of this happening, the patient should get out of bed slowly and rest his feet on the floor for a little while before standing up. If the symptoms do not go away, the patient should call his doctor.

Another important precaution is that the patient should not take other medication unless they have had a discussion with their doctor. This includes both prescription or nonprescription OTC drugs, and vitamin or herbal supplements.

Storage

Alfuzosin should be stored at room temperature and away from light, excess heat and moisture. The medication should be kept tightly closed in its original container. It is also vital to make sure that all medication is stored where children cannot reach or see it.

If the healthcare professional decides that a patient no longer needs treatment with this medication, the patient must properly dispose of any unused tablets so children, pets or other people cannot find them. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. The patient may need to ask their pharmacist about how they should dispose of unused medication.

Summary

Alfuzosin is used in men for the treatment of an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. Taking alfuzosin helps relax the prostate muscles and bladder opening, which in turn improves the flow of urine while also relieving the symptoms of BPH, which include difficult or painful urination, increased urgency and frequency of urination, weak urine stream, and a feeling of not being able to completely empty urine from the bladder.

Patients taking alfuzosin should observe certain precautions. If the patient has an allergy of any kind or has some other medical problem, he should be sure to inform his doctor. It is also important for the patient to inform his doctor if he is currently taking other drugs. This is because some medications - in particular, other alpha blockers - may cause interactions and aggravate some side effects when used together with alfuzosin.

Dizziness or lightheadedness are some of the common side effects of taking this medicine, especially in the initial stages of use. Emergency help should be sought if the patient experiences other severe side effects, such as rash, chest pain, a fast/irregular heartbeat, or difficulty breathing.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
December 10, 2017
Last Updated:
April 04, 2018