Men – as they grow old – are more likely to witness an enlargement of their prostate gland. If you are living with this condition, you are likely to experience difficulties while urinating. Treatment options include administration of drugs and if needed, a surgical intervention is performed. Among drugs administered – finasteride and dutasteride are more commonly prescribed. But, can you switch from finasteride to dutasteride? You need to know more on this if you are living with an enlarged prostate.

An enlarged prostate (or, benign prostate hyperplasia – in clinical terms) is considered as a common medical condition among men – especially, elderly men. Your age and prior ailments often decide the line of treatment. In case of surgeries, the options include a minimally invasive (or a keyhole) surgical procedure or a conventional intervention. Signs and symptoms you live with often tell more about its onset. So, if you are often experiencing frequent urges to pee, getting up during night times to pee or feeling a sense of fullness of your bladder (after peeing) – these are likely signs of an enlarged prostate.

The signs however do not tell much about the size of enlargement. Men who have had a larger enlargement of prostate have witnessed moderate urinary problems; also, men who have only had a slight enlargement of prostate have encountered acute urinary conditions. It is a good thing to make your treating doctor (or a qualified urologist) to decide on the line of treatment. In this light, drugs such as dutasteride, finasteride, etc. are used as part of the treatment plan.

What is dutasteride?

This drug is used for the treatment of enlargement of prostate among men – both adults and the elderly. It is known to offer needful relief from signs of BPH – such as weak stream of urine output, starting problems experienced before urinating, urgent need to pee – especially while you are sleeping. Dutasteride is also used for reducing the need to opt for a surgery. Side effects associated with the long term use of this drug include reduction in output of semen, enlargement of breasts (in males), a marked drop in sexual interest / decrease in libido, etc.

In some one-off cases, allergies such as drowsiness, rashes on skin, itchiness and respiratory troubles have also been witnessed. If these adverse conditions persist, it is strongly recommended to talk to our treating physician without much delay. Above all, it is important to remember that your caregiver has prescribed this drug as its benefits exceed the risks of the aforesaid side effects / discomforts.

What is finasteride?

Finasteride is taken to bring about needful relief from an enlargement of the prostate gland as well as hair loss. Consumption of this drug is known to decrease symptoms such as difficulties faced while urinating or if you encounter frequent needs to pee. For problems such as loss of scalp hair, this drug can help hair to grow. Finasteride inhibits your system from making a few enzymes that play an active part in enlarging the prostate.

Stopping to take finasteride may make prostate to start enlarging. Hence, this drug needs to be always taken under the clinical supervision / guidance of a qualified doctor. Available only as a tablet, it is never given to male infants; upon administering this drug to them – babies may develop problems in their genitals. Women who are pregnant must not take this drug as it can increase risks of fetal damage.

Can you switch from finasteride to dutasteride?

Both drugs form part of a genre of drugs known as 5-alpha reductase inhibiting meds. These two drugs are widely prescribed owing to their effectiveness. Their line of action is almost the same – i.e., preventing the enlargement of the prostate. Owing to long time taken for reversing the signs, these drugs are prescribed over the longer term – i.e., for a minimum of 6 months to more than 18 months; the duration of medication plan depends on severity of the condition, presence of other ailments as well as your age.

Among these two meds, dutasteride is known for its high level of potency, as compared to finasteride.
Owing to its high potency, side effects dutasteride triggers are much more than its counterpart(s). These two drugs help block the making of DHT – this enzyme needs testosterone for it to be made. Once DHT production is blocked, you are likely to start seeing relief from signs of an enlarged prostate. However, switching from finasteride to dutasteride is unlikely to lead to a major change in outcomes. Also, those who had been taking minoxidil along with finasteride may deprive the positive effects of the former upon switching over to dutasteride.

Those who are not satisfied with the outcomes of finasteride may talk to their treating physician about making a switch. However, such a switch is not recommended after taking finasteride only for a shorter span of time. Your caregiving team may advise you to try the less-potent version of 5AR inhibitor (i.e., finasteride) prior to making the change. In some men, it may take as high as 4 to 5 months for finasteride to start showing positive outcomes. In a few stray instances, men have responded to the less-potent version after taking it for as high as 9 to 12 months. Hence, your physician may tell you to continue taking finasteride for a sizable span of time.

Regardless of the type of drug you take for BPH, it is important to share the list of meds you are currently taking. It is a safe practice to compile a list of all treatment plans you are presently pursuing. In your list, ensure to include all forms of drugs – i.e., over the counter meds, prescription drugs, vitamins, protein supplements, dietary aids and /or herbal meds. After having shared the list of meds, never make any changes to them without telling your treating doctor / pharmacist.

In sum, dutasteride is a highly potent med than finasteride.  But, these drugs help block DHT to bring about relief from symptoms of prostate enlargement. If you are not happy with the results finasteride yields, consult with your physician about it. In most instances, your doctor may advise you to take finasteride for a considerable amount of time. In general, switching to dutasteride (from finasteride) is unlikely to make much change in the quantum of relief obtained. It is hence safe to follow the instructions of your doctor / pharmacist prior to making switching from one med to another.

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