What are diuretics?


Diuretics are medications that cause the kidney to ex-crete more water and salt. Diuretics can cause the de-pletion of potassium and magnesium, which can bedangerous. Patients who are taking diuretics, therefore,should consult with their physician regarding supple-mentation of these electrolytes.

Also called water pills, diuretics are used to treat condi-tions such as CHF, high blood pressure (hypertension),or edema (water retention).

Diuretics are also effec-tive for the treatment of certain kinds of kidney or liverdiseases.Diuretics come in three basic types: the thiazides, theloop diuretics, and the potassium-sparing diuretics.

Thiazide diuretics work by increasing the excretion ofwater and salt from the kidneys. They are the only typeof diuretic that dilates the blood vessels, which alsohelps to lower blood pressure. Some examples of thi-azide diuretics are:

Generic Name                              Brand Name

methyclothiazide                             Aquatensen

hydrochlorothiazide                      Hydrodiuril

chlorthalidone                                  Hygroton

metolazone                                        Zaroxolyn

Loop diuretics cause the kidneys to increase the flow ofurine. This helps reduce the amount of water in yourbody and lower your blood pressure. Common exam-ples of loop diuretics are:

Generic Name                              Brand Name

furosemide                                       Lasix and Myrosemide

bumetanide                                      Bumex

torsemide                                         Demadex

ethacrynic acid                              Edecrin

Potassium-sparing diuretics are used to reduce theamount of water and salt in the body. Although thesediuretics cause the body to lose a type of salt calledsodium (table salt), they do not cause your body to loseanother type of salt called potassium. Potassium levelsshould be checked frequently when beginning this typeof diuretic, because high potassium levels can result,which are dangerous.

Some examples of potassium-sparing diuretics are:

Generic Name                              Brand Name

spironolactone                            Aldactone

triamterene                                  Dyrenium

amiloride                                       Midamor


What are the side effects of diuretics?

Side effects are unwanted conditions caused by a drug.These might include, for example, getting a rash fromtaking penicillin or a headache from taking nitroglyc-erin. Diuretics can cause side effects and patientsshould be aware of them and notify their doctor if theyexperience them. Common side effects of diuretics are:

● Weakness

● Muscle cramps

● Skin rash

● Increased sensitivity to sunlight (especially with thi-azide diuretics)

● Vomiting

● Diarrhea

● Cramps

● Dizziness or lightheadedness

● Joint pain

● Palpitations