What are diuretics used for?
Diuretics are a common medication used for treating a condition known as hypertension (high blood pressure).
Also known as water pills, diuretics help flush out excess salt (sodium) and water from your body. Most of them work by acting on the kidneys, causing them to release more sodium into your urine. Sodium takes water along and eases pressure on the arteries, thus alleviating increased blood pressure.
Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic if you have congestive heart failure. In this condition, your heart fails to pump blood throughout your body, causing fluid buildup in your blood vessels. This manifests as swelling (edema) in your body, particularly in the legs. Diuretics reduce edema by flushing out excess fluid from the blood vessels.
Other conditions for which diuretics are used include liver disorders and kidney stones.
What are the types of diuretics?
All diuretics cause your body to excrete more urine than normal. Diuretics are of three types.
- Thiazide diuretics
- Loop diuretics
- Potassium-sparing diuretics
Each type of diuretic works on a different part of your kidneys. Some pills may have a combination of diuretics, whereas others may combine a diuretic with another blood pressure medication.
After taking your medical history and diagnosing your condition, your doctor decides which diuretic will work best for you.
|Type of diuretic||Examples|
Doctors often recommend thiazide diuretics as first-line drugs for treating hypertension.
Unlike other diuretics, potassium-sparing diuretics preserve potassium while flushing out sodium and water from your body. Your doctor may choose a potassium-sparing diuretic for you if you are at risk of low potassium levels because of other medications that you are already on that can deplete your body of potassium. A low potassium level can cause a serious condition known as arrhythmia, which is characterized by irregular heartbeats.
What are the side effects of diuretics?
Diuretics are generally safe and well-tolerated. Their possible side effects include
- Low sodium level (with thiazide diuretics)
- Very low potassium level (with thiazide diuretics)
- High potassium level (with potassium-sparing diuretics)
- Increased blood sugar level
- Increased cholesterol level
- Muscle cramps
- Allergic reaction (skin rash)
- Joint disorders (gout)
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Related Disease Conditions
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms. Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure. The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater. If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
How Is Diastolic Hypertension Treated?
Diastolic hypertension, where only your diastolic blood pressure is elevated, may be treated with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, reducing your sodium intake or alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking. Medications may be prescribed in more severe cases.
Pulmonary hypertension is elevated pressure in the pulmonary arteries that carry blood from the lungs to the heart. The most common symptoms are fatigue and difficulty breathing. If the condition goes undiagnosed, more severe symptoms may occur. As pulmonary hypertension worsens, some people with the condition have difficulty performing any activities that require physical exertion. While there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, it can be managed and treated with medications and supplemental oxygen to increase blood oxygen levels.
Portal hypertension is most commonly caused by cirrhosis, a disease that results from scarring of the liver. Other causes of portal hypertension include blood clots in the portal vein, blockages of the veins that carry the blood from the liver to the heart, and a parasitic infection called schistosomiasis. Symptoms of portal hypertension include varices (enlarged veins), vomiting blood, blood in the stool, black and tarry stool, ascites (abnormal fluid collection within the peritoneum, the sac that contains the intestines within the abdominal cavity), confusion and lethargy, splenomegaly or enlargement of the spleen, and decreased white blood cell counts.
Hypertension-Induced Chronic Kidney Disease
Hypertension-induced chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-standing kidney condition that develops over time due to persistent or uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension).
What Is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
High blood pressure or hypertension is when the blood pressure readings consistently range from 140 or higher for systolic or 90 or higher for diastolic. Blood pressure readings above 180/120 mmHg are dangerously high and require immediate medical attention.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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Loop diuretics: Dosing and major side effects. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/loop-diuretics-dosing-and-major-side-effects?