How Quickly Does Flomax Work for Kidney Stones
Flomax works rapidly within 48 hours of taking the medication. For some people, however, symptoms may take 2-4 weeks to improve

Flomax is the brand name for tamsulosin, which was originally used for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Flomax can also be prescribed to aid in the passage of large kidney stones. It promotes relaxation of the smooth muscles of the ureter, which improves urinary flow and reduces mechanical obstruction created by kidney stones.

Flomax works rapidly and significantly reduces the time it takes to pass stones from the urinary tract within 48 hours of taking the medication. For some people, however, symptoms may take 2-4 weeks to improve.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are the buildup of minerals and salts in the urinary tract and can vary in size and type. They form irregular, solid crystals made of various compounds such as calcium, oxalate, cysteine, and uric acid. 

Studies estimate that about 1 in 10 people will get kidney stones during their lifetime.

How to speed up passage of a kidney stone

A kidney stone smaller than 4 millimeters may pass within 1-2 weeks, whereas a stone larger than 4 millimeters may take about 2-3 to pass completely.

The best way to speed up this process is to drink plenty of water. You can also follow these steps to avoid new stone formation and reduce the size of the existing ones:

  • Limit calcium intake
  • Decrease protein consumption
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Eat citrus fruits
  • Stay adequately hydrated

Who is most at risk of kidney stones?

Risk factors for kidney stones include:

What are the signs and symptoms of kidney stones?

You may have kidney stones without even knowing it. They cause symptoms only when they become large or get stuck in the ureter. Symptoms may include:

How are kidney stones diagnosed?

Based on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may recommend a few tests to confirm a diagnosis of kidney stones:

  • Urine test: Checks for signs of infection
  • Blood test: Checks kidney function and biochemical profile
  • Imaging tests (X-rays and CT scans): Visualize the shape, size, location, and number of kidney stones

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How are kidney stones treated?

Treatment depends on the size and location of the kidney stones:

  • Medications: Include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, intravenous fluids, and diuretics, and are prescribed to:
  • Surgery: May be recommended if the stone is big or stuck in the ureter.
    • Ureteroscopy: Ureteroscope is inserted into the ureter through the urethra. Stones are broken using a laser, and these smaller pieces can then exit the body through urine.
    • Shockwave lithotripsy: Uses a special type of surgical tube, and high-energy shock waves are sent through water to break up the stones.
    • Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: Used when there are numerous, large stones. A small incision is made in the back to insert a tube in the kidney. Using an ultrasound probe, the stones are disintegrated and suctioned out. A urethral stent (tube that connects the kidney and bladder) is placed and removed a week later.
    • Open surgery: Rare, but performed if the stone is very large. It involves making a longer incision to take out the stone.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/12/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Kidney Stones. Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15604-kidney-stones

Kidney Stone Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention. American Kidney Fund: https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-problems/kidney-stones/

Kidney Stones. Urology Care Foundation: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/k/kidney-stones