A class of drugs, named diuretic drugs, is used to get rid of excess water in the body. This article talks about their types, uses, and side effects.
Diuresis is a condition in which body loses water through excess urination. Diabetes mellitus is a disease which causes diuresis. However, there are certain other diseases in which the fluid retention in body becomes a problem. In such cases, the body is required to lose excess water and fluid content.
Loss of water is recommended in cases of hypertension, congestive heart failure, kidney diseases, etc. Diuretic drugs, commonly known as ‘water pills’, are mainly used for the purpose of elimination of water from the body. They prevent the re-absorption of substances like sodium and chlorine, so that these substances are eliminated through the urine.
Different diuretic drugs have different working mechanisms. Some impede the kidney’s ability to absorb sodium, which leads to loss of sodium through the urine. However, water is required to eliminate sodium from the body. Hence, loss of sodium also results in loss of water. This type of diuretic drugs is known as high ceiling diuretics or loop diuretic drugs. The second category known as thiazide diuretics works by eliminating sodium, as well as chlorine, along with lots of water. Potassium-sparing diuretics are the type which block the exchange of sodium for potassium. Due to this mechanism, some amount of potassium is retained, hence the name.
» List of Drugs
Following are the most popular diuretic drugs.
- Loop Diuretics: Bumetanide (Bumex) and Furosemide (Lasix)
- Thiazide Diuretics: Hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL, Esidrix), Chlorothiazide (Diuril) and Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)
- Potassium Sparing Diuretics: Amiloride (Midamor) and Triamterene (Dyrenium)
- Combination Diuretics: Dyazide and Maxzide (combination of Thiazide Diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide and Potassium sparing Diuretic Triamterene)
» Side Effects
The most obvious side effect of these drugs is frequent urination. The loss of electrolytes such as sodium and chlorine results in electrolyte imbalance in the body. It also results in extreme weakness, fatigue, dehydration, excessive thirst, etc. Other side effects include blurred vision, confusion, fever, sore throat, cough, ringing in the ears, unusual bleeding or bruising, rapid and excessive weight loss, etc.
In rare cases, skin rash may develop. Loss of potassium may result in loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or muscle cramps. In certain cases, potassium sparing diuretics may induce breast enlargement in men and women alike. Irregular menses and excessive growth of hair are some other side effects of these drugs.
Diuretic drugs may be recommended as a single acting drug, or in combination with other diuretic drugs. Although, the purpose of all diuretics is same, that is expulsion of water from body, the choice of the drug is greatly influenced by the underlying medical disorder. For instance, patients suffering from congestive heart failure are often prescribed loop diuretics. The reason is that they are very powerful, and offer maximum water loss. The reduction of fluid in blood, reduces pressure on the heart, so that the efficiency of pumping blood is increased.
However, these drugs do little to lower blood pressure. In that case, thiazides are more effective hypertension medications. They bring about the loss of sodium, chlorine, and water, which helps in lowering blood pressure. Thus, thiazides are most commonly recommended for hypertension. Potassium sparing diuretics are helpful for congestive heart failure patients. However, these drugs are to be given in combination with loop diuretics and thiazides.
Diuretic drugs should be strictly taken under the guidance of a medical practitioner only. Your body may take a little while to get used to these drugs. If you experience any of the above side effects, call your doctor right away.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.