Treating Seasonal Allergies and Worsening BPH

March 24, 2021

Spring has sprung!

Days are lasting longer, weather is warmer and plants are blooming. For many, this also means seasonal allergies are back and that it’s time to break out the allergy medications.

While allergy medications help alleviate sneezing, nasal congestion, post nasal drainage and headaches, those same medications can actually worsen urinary symptoms if you have benign prostate hyperplasia with obstruction (BPH).

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a common medical condition that affects about 40 million men in the United States. As the prostate grows and enlarges benignly it begins to press on and obstruct the urethra, causing symptoms such as frequent daytime urination, getting up at night frequently to urinate, a weak or slow stream, the feeling of not emptying the bladder completely, an urgent need to urinate, or difficulty starting a urinary stream. Although BPH is a benign condition, many men find it disruptive to their lives. It is treatable with medications and surgical procedures.

The big allergy medication offenders are antihistamines and decongestants, which are often found in combination cold/allergy medications or as single medications that treat allergies only. These drugs can make it harder for the prostate and the bladder to relax, making it even more difficult for urine to flow.

Decongestants, like Pseudoephedrine, Dextroamphetamine, Phenylephrine (Sudafed, Mucinex-D, Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Zyrtec-D, Mucinex DM and their generics) increase the resistance to urine flow through the prostate by causing the smooth muscle in the prostate to squeeze the urethra, which increases urinary problems.

Oral antihistamines (Diphenhydramine, Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra and their generics) weaken the bladder contractions. This lessens the bladder’s ability to expel the urine. Urinating normally requires having a forceful bladder muscle contraction to expel the urine, as well as a low resistance to the flow of urine through the prostate gland and out of the urethra. Anything that weakens the bladder’s ability to contract or increases the resistance to urine flow out of the bladder makes it more difficult—and sometimes impossible—to empty the bladder.

Side effects of antihistamines might be less intense if taking “newer” allergy medications such as:  loratadine (Claritin, others), cetirizine (Zyrtec), or fexofenadine (Allegra). However, it’s still possible for these to affect urination.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, safe bets to help alleviate allergies includes prescription Singulair and nasal sprays such as Afrin, Flonase, Nasonex, prescription Astelin, and Nascort. These prescription and over the counter medications do not interact with the prostate or bladder and won’t cause an increase in urinary symptoms. 

If you are interested in learning more about BPH or are experiencing other urination related issues, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with Austin Urology Institute today!