6 Things to Know About Diuretics

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Karon Warren on June 3, 2021
  • Middle age female African American doctor giving prescription to older male Caucasian patient
    Diuretic Medication Information
    Also called “water pills,” diuretics work in the kidneys to reduce the amount of sodium (salt) and water in your body, which helps decrease the amount of fluid in the veins and arteries. They often are used to treat high blood pressure, but can help improve symptoms related to other conditions as well. Get important diuretic information, including what diuretics are, natural diuretics (and when you can try natural diuretics instead of prescription), diuretic medications, and potential diuretics side effects.
  • Human kidneys and adrenal glands, illustration
    1. There are three types of diuretics.
    Diuretics come in three types, each of which works differently in the kidneys. These are thiazide, loop, and potassium-sparing diuretics. Thiazide diuretics reduce the amount of water and sodium in the body, plus they dilate the blood vessels. Loop diuretics increase the flow of urine, while potassium-sparing diuretics reduce the amount of water in the body and preserve potassium. Because they affect different parts of the kidneys, your doctor may prescribe more than one type of diuretic to treat your condition.
  • Senior man monitoring his blood pressure at home
    2. Diuretics often treat high blood pressure.
    Diuretics are a very common treatment for high blood pressure because they reduce the amount of fluid in the veins and arteries, which reduces blood pressure. However, they also may be effective in preventing, treating or improving symptoms related to such conditions as kidney stones, tissue swelling (edema), reducing intraocular pressure, estrogen therapy, liver failure, and heart failure. In addition, diuretics often are used to reduce fluid buildup due to congestive heart failure.
  • Ginger tea with lemon
    3. Natural diuretics include certain herbs and plants.
    Many people take natural diuretics as part of a healthy lifestyle. Examples include green and black tea, parsley, ginger, and hawthorn. However, while these herbs and plants may increase urination, they may not be effective for treating the cause of any fluid retention you experience. As such, it’s important to talk with your doctor before taking natural diuretics to resolve fluid retention. It’s possible these natural diuretics may worsen the medical condition resulting in fluid retention. They also may negatively interact with your current medications.
  • man-holding-two-bottles-of-pills
    4. Your doctor may prescribe one or more diuretic medications for you.
    Because natural diuretics may not effectively address the cause of fluid retention, there are numerous prescription diuretic medications available to address your specific medical condition. For thiazide diuretics, these include Diucardin, Trichlorex and Aquatensen. Prescription loop diuretics include Lasix, Burmex and Edecrin. Doctors may prescribe a potassium-sparing diuretic, such as Midamor, Aldactone or Dyrenium, to help preserve potassium in your blood.

    It’s possible you may receive a prescription for more than one of these diuretic medications, since they affect the kidneys in different ways. Talk with your doctor to make sure these prescription diuretic medications will not interfere with your current medications.
  • Businessman with headache sitting at desk in office
    5. Potential diuretics side effects include dizziness, headache and dehydration.
    For the most part, diuretics are safe to use. However, as with all medications, there are potential side effects, including increased urination and sodium loss. It’s possible that diuretics lead to too much or too little potassium in your blood, which could affect your heartbeat. Your doctor will order routine blood tests to monitor your serum potassium levels. Dizziness, headaches, dehydration, diarrhea, increased blood sugar, increased cholesterol, skin rash, muscle cramps, gout, and impotence also are possible diuretics side effects. Serious diuretics side effects include kidney failure, irregular heartbeat and allergic reaction. Tell your doctor right away if you experience side effects. You may need a dosage adjustment or a different diuretic.
  • pills-and-bottles
    6. Diuretics could have a negative impact on certain conditions or drug interactions.
    Although generally safe for many patients, diuretics could have negative impacts on certain pre-existing conditions. Ask your doctor about taking diuretics if you have diabetes, pancreatitis, gout, kidney problems, lupus, menstrual problems, or frequent dehydration. In addition, tell your doctor about all medications, supplements or herbs you currently take before taking any diuretic. Certain medications may negatively interact with diuretics, such as lithium, certain antidepressants (such as Prozac), cyclosporine ophthalmic (Restasis), digoxin, and other high blood pressure medications.
What to Know About Diuretics | Natural Diuretics & Diuretic Medications

About The Author

A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon is a successful long-time published journalist who covers health, finance, insurance, business, real estate, lifestyle and travel. Her work appears in numerous online outlets and print publications across the country. She also is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 2
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.