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Diuretics

  • Diuretics (water pills) help your body get rid of extra fluid. This will reduce the swelling in your feet, ankles, legs and abdomen. Diuretics also help your body get rid of extra fluid in your lungs to make breathing easier.

    A diuretic may cause you to go to the bathroom more often and cause a dry mouth. These are signs it is working and not cause for concern.

    Tips

    • If you have to go to the bathroom at night, get up slowly so you do not fall.
    • 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.
    • If you take an antacid with aluminum (such as Gaviscon®), it may affect how well the diuretic can work. Take the antacid and digoxin at least two hours apart from each other.

    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. (Chew gum or hard candy to help your dry mouth.)

    Common diuretics include:

    • furosemide (Lasix®)
    • bumetanide (Bumex®)
    • torsemide (Demadex®)
    • hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril®)
    • metolazone (Zaroxolyn®)
    • triamterene/HCTZ (Dyazide®, Maxzide®)

    Tip

    Be sure to wear sunscreen when you are outside on sunny days. Taking a diuretic may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

    Side effects

    Some side effects include:

    • fluid loss (dehydration). 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. Use the same scale. Weigh yourself with the same amount of clothes on.
      • Write down your weight to track if you are losing too much fluid.
      • Bring this log to your clinic visit.
    • potassium loss. Your body may lose potassium along with fluids. Potassium is needed to keep a good heart rhythm. You may need a blood test to check your potassium level.

    To keep from getting too dizzy or lightheaded, you can:

    • 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 a long time.
    • Avoid exercise in hot weather.

    When to call your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have the following:

    • loss of appetite
    • nausea and vomiting
    • stomach cramps or diarrhea
    • leg cramps

    Call your health care provider if you have the following signs of low potassium:

    • unusual tiredness or weakness
    • thirst or dry mouth
    • weak or irregular heartbeat
    • muscle cramps or pain
    • nausea or vomiting
    • constipation