The minor side effects of spironolactone are loss of appetite, feeling dizzy or increasingly thirsty. However, serious side effects can be muscle weakness, drop in heart rate and increase in potassium levels in blood.
Spironolactone is used with a brand name of Aldactone which is a potassium-sparing diuretic that prevents one’s body from absorbing too much salt, thereby reducing water retention. It reduces the amount of fluid in body without causing the loss of potassium. It prevents hypokalemia, a condition in which blood potassium levels drop considerably. Other than these, spironolactone is used to treat hypertension, hyperaldosteronism (in which adrenal glands produce excess of the hormone aldosterone) and edema in patients with congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis or nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disorder). Despite its potential for treating various medical conditions, there are certain side effects and some precautions should be taken before its use.
Although its side effects do not occur frequently, some are mild ones that individuals can easily tolerate or can be treated by one’s physician, while some are of serious kinds. Some of the common side effects are:
- Dry mouth or thirst that are signs of dehydration
- Loss of appetite
- Nasal congestion or sleeplessness
Besides these common ones, some people may experience certain side effects that are more severe in nature. In case, one has any of the following symptoms, then immediate medical attention is required:
- Muscle weakness
- Drop in heart rate
- Hyperkalemia or high levels of potassium in blood
- Breast enlargement (spironolactone side effect in men)
- Breast lumps
- Sore throat
- Extreme weakness
- Yellowing of the skin
- Irregular pulse
- Persistent cough
- Decreased sexual ability
- Alterations in the amount of urine passed daily.
- In some cases, individuals also develop allergic reactions like skin rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, hives, difficulty in breathing or swallowing and wheezing.
- Women taking these medicines may experience irregular menstrual cycle and tenderness in breasts.
» Inform the doctor about your health problems and routine medication, if your doctor prescribes this medicine. You should always inform him about any heart condition, kidney disease, liver problems, diabetes, urinary problems, allergies or sodium and potassium imbalances that you may suffering from. The doctor should know if his patient is on steroids or any other diuretic before prescribing spironolactone to him. Aspirin may also decrease the effect of spironolactone. In case, you are buying a non prescription drug and you are not sure if it contains aspirin, confirm the presence of aspirin from the pharmacist. However, for those on spironolactone, it is always advisable to consult a physician before taking any drug.
» Those who are about to undergo a surgery, even if it is a dental surgery, they must inform the doctor if they are using spironolactone. This medicine may increase the amount of potassium in one’s blood.
» Contact your doctor immediately in case, you begin experiencing abdominal pain and difficulty in breathing, you must stop using the medicine and contact your doctor immediately. In case, you detect lumps in your body, then consult a physician without any delay as this medicine can cause tumors in the body.
» Pregnant and lactating women should be aware of the fact that the drug is harmful for the unborn child and also for babies who receive the drug through breast milk of the mother who has been prescribed this drug. Hence, pregnant and nursing women should avoid spironolactone or consult their physician before taking it.
» This drug changes fluid balance in the body. Hence, when you stand up from the lying position, you might feel dizzy. To avoid this sensation, always get up gently from a lying position.
The dosage for adults range from 25 to 400 mg according to the condition that is being treated. It can be taken with or without food. However, it is generally recommended to have it in the morning with food as the urine output is considerably higher in the morning. If a dose is missed by you, then make sure that you do not double the dose the next day to compensate for it as it can be extremely dangerous.
As spironolactone is a diuretic, it increases the amount of water loss through urine along with sodium. However, it does not affect potassium at all. That’s why, people who are on this medicine should keep the potassium levels in their body in control by limiting the intake of potassium rich foods. It is also used as an anti-androgen for hair loss treatment for women. If taken by men, it can result in acute side effects like decrease sex drive or impotence. Spironolactone is used for treating hormonal acne breakout as well. Being an anti-androgen drug, it prevents androgen receptors in the body from receiving more androgen hormones, thus reducing the acne producing hormones.
Spironolactone is used to treat a number of ailments. However, its side effects are quite serious. That’s why avoid self-medicating on this drug and follow the instructions given by your doctor regarding medicines and their dosage.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.