Description: Diuretics are used with other types of medications to control edema, which can be associated with a number of medical conditions, including congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, corticosteroid therapy or estrogen therapy. Diuretics may also be used for renal dysfunction like nephrotic syndrome, acute glomerulonephritis, or chronic renal failure.
Classes of Diuretics
There are at least three pharmacological classes of diuretics. The thiazides diuretics include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Hygroton), indapamide (Lozol), hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril), methylchlothiazide (Enduron), and metolazone (Zaroxolyn, Diulo, Mykrox). The loop diuretics include bumetanide (Bumex), furosemide (Lasix), ethacrynate (Edecrin), and torsemide (Demadex). The third pharmacological class of diuretics is potassium sparing diuretics, which include amiloride hydrochloride, spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Dyrenium).
Serious Side Effects of Diuretics
Serious side effects can result from diuretic treatment, including cardiac arrest or irregular heartbeat from low sodium or potassium in the blood, confusion, seizures, rapid heart rate, and decreased or absent production of urine (renal failure).
Common Side Effects of Diuretics
When patients have fluid imbalance, which can be due to use of any diuretic, common side effects are dry mouth, thirst, weakness, lethargy, drowsiness, restlessness, muscle cramps or pain, seizures, confusion, muscular fatigue, hypotension, decreased or absent production of urine, tachycardia, and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Common side effects from the thiazide diuretics include dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, headache, loss of appetite, stomach upset, diarrhea or constipation as your body adjusts to the medication.
Side effects frequently experienced with the loop diuretics include increased urination, thirst, muscle cramps, itching or rash, weakness, dizziness, diarrhea, spinning sensation, stomach pain, and constipation.
Common side effects of the potassium sparing diuretics include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or cramps, dry mouth, thirst, dizziness, enlarged breast tissue in men, breast pain in women, irregular menstrual periods, post-menopausal vaginal bleeding, and erectile dysfunction.
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Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry