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When given tamsulosin for kidney stones, the majority of men are able to quickly eliminate the stones and return to normal health. This medication is most effective when used alongside another treatment that breaks up larger stones into small pieces. In women, taking tamsulosin is not effective for treating kidney stones.
Recent medical studies have confirmed that giving male patients tamsulosin can effectively treat kidney stones. This drug works well when combined with extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), a treatment that uses high-intensity sound waves for breaking kidney stones into smaller pieces. Once the stones are broken up, they are able to pass out of the body in urine. Though ESWL can be used alone, nearly half of patients who receive only this treatment need to have it more than once. Only about a quarter of patients who receive ESWL without the administration of tamsulosin see the condition clear up within a month and only about half within three months.
Patients who are given tamsulosin for kidney stones see a marked improvement over patients only given ESWL. About half of these patients no longer have kidney stones in one month and 80% no longer have them in three months. In terms of long-term treatment, patients who receive tamsulosin usually do not need to return to the doctor to break up large kidney stones a second time. On average, patients who are given tamsulosin for kidney stones have eliminated all the stones within 50 days.
Tamsulosin is only effective in male patients. This drug is an alpha blocker, which is a type of drug that relaxes certain muscles and dilates blood vessels. Specifically, this medication targets a muscle in the prostate gland, which is a gland in the male reproductive system that sits close to the urinary tract. Relaxing this muscle puts less pressure on the urinary tract, allowing kidney stones to pass through it more easily.
Using tamsulosin for kidney stones can be even more effective when paired with a number of self-care treatments. Patients can make sure they drink enough water so that there is more fluid flowing through the urinary tract. They can also watch their sodium intake, so that fluid is not retained by the kidneys. In some cases, patients are given other medications to help with pain and to prevent the loss of calcium through the urine while taking tamsulosin.