Diuretics (water pills) help your body get rid of extra fluid. Getting rid of extra water will reduce the swelling in your feet, ankles, legs and abdomen. It also removes extra fluid in your lungs. This makes breathing easier.
Take your diuretic early in the morning so it works during the day. This reduces trips to the bathroom at night. If you take the diuretic two times a day, take the second dose no later than 4 or 5 p.m.
Be sure to wear sunscreen when you are outside on sunny days. Taking a diuretic may increase your sensitivity to sunlight.
If you take a diuretic you may go to the bathroom often and you may have a dry mouth. (Chewing gum or hard candy may help your dry mouth.) These are signs the diuretic is working properly and not cause for concern.
This can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded when you get up from lying down or sitting. Call your health care provider if you feel dizzy. Weigh yourself every day at the same time and on the same scale. Weigh yourself with the same amount of clothes on. Record your weight on a calendar or paper
to track if you are losing too much fluid. Bring this log to your clinic visit.
potassium loss. Along with fluids, your body may lose potassium. This mineral is needed to keep a good heart rhythm. You may need a blood test occasionally to check your potassium level. If your level is low, you may need to take a potassium supplement.
Some things you can do to keep from getting too dizzy or lightheaded are:
Some diuretics may raise blood glucose levels. If you have diabetes, you need to be careful to test your glucose. Report any unusual findings to your health care provider.
Get up slowly.
Avoid or limit alcohol to one drink a day. One drink is:
4 ounces of wine
12 ounces of beer
1 ounce of hard liquor.
Avoid standing for long periods of time.
Avoid exercise in hot weather.
When to call your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have the following signs of low potassium:
If you have any of the signs of too little potassium listed here, call your health care provider.
unusual tiredness or weakness
thirst or dry mouth
weak or irregular heartbeat
muscle cramps or pain
nausea or vomiting
Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-20-7
First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 07/19/2008