Diuretics in Bodybuilding
Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, treat a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma and edema. Find out more about this class of medication.
Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, help rid your body of sodium and water. They work by making your kidneys excrete more sodium in urine. The sodium, in turn, takes water with it from your blood. That decreases the amount of fluid flowing through your blood vessels, which reduces pressure on the walls of your arteries.
Examples of diuretics
There are three types of diuretics: thiazide, loop and potassium-sparing. Each works by affecting a different part of your kidneys, and each may have different uses, side effects and precautions. Which diuretic is best for you depends on your health and the condition being treated.
Examples of thiazide diuretics include:
Examples of loop diuretics include:
Examples of potassium-sparing diuretics include:
Different types of diuretics may also be combined into one pill.
Uses for diuretics
A large group of medical experts known as the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends that most people should try thiazide diuretics as the first choice to treat high blood pressure and heart problems related to high blood pressure. In addition, doctors prescribe certain diuretics to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in a variety of conditions, such as:
Congestive heart failure
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Certain kidney disorders, such as kidney stones
Side effects and cautions
In general, potential side effects of diuretics include increased urination, weakness, dizziness, impotence, dehydration and, depending on the type of diuretic, potassium decrease or increase, or sodium decrease.
Diuretics are medicines that help reduce the amount of water in the body.
Diuretics are used to treat the buildup of excess fluid in the body that occurs with some medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, liver disease, and kidney disease. Some diuretics are also prescribed to treat high blood pressure. These drugs act on the kidneys to increase urine output. This reduces the amount of fluid in the bloodstream, which in turn lowers blood pressure.
There are several types of diuretics, also called water pills:
•Loop diuretics, such as bumetanide (Bumex) and furosemide (Lasix), get their name from the loop-shaped part of the kidneys where they have their effect.
•Thiazide diuretics include such commonly used diuretics as hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL, Esidrix), chlorothiazide (Diuril), and chlorthalidone (Hygroton).
•Potassium-sparing diuretics prevent the loss of potassium, which is a problem with other types of diuretics. Examples of potassium-sparing diuretics are amiloride (Midamor) and triamterene (Dyrenium).
In addition, some medicines contain combinations of two diuretics. The brands Dyazide and Maxzide, for example, contain the thiazide diuretic hydrochlorothiazide with the potassium-sparing diuretic triamterene.
Some nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines contain diuretics. However, the medicines described here cannot be bought without a physician's prescription. They are available in tablet, capsule, liquid and injectable forms.
The recommended dosage depends on the type of diuretic and may be different for different patients. Check with the physician who prescribed the drug or the pharmacist who filled the prescription for the correct dosage, and take the medicine exactly as directed.
Seeing a physician regularly while taking a diuretic is important. The physician will check to make sure the medicine is working as it should and will watch for unwanted side effects.
Some people feel unusually tired when they first start taking diuretics. This effect usually becomes less noticeable over time, as the body adjusts to the medicine.
Because diuretics increase urine output, people who take this medicine may need to urinate more often, even during the night. Health care professionals can help patients schedule their doses to avoid interfering with their sleep or regular activities.
For patients taking the kinds of diuretics that rob potassium from the body, physicians may recommend adding potassium-rich foods or drinks, such as citrus fruits and juices, to the diet. Or they may suggest taking a potassium supplement or taking another medicine that keeps the body from losing too much potassium. If the physician recommends any of these measures, be sure to closely follow his or her directions. Do not make other diet changes without checking with the physician. People who are taking potassium-sparing diuretics should not add potassium to their diets, as too much potassium may be harmful.
People who take diuretics may lose too much water or potassium when they get sick, especially if they have severe vomiting and diarrhea. They should check with their physicians if they become ill.
These medicines make some people feel lightheaded, dizzy or faint when they get up after sitting or lying down. Older people are especially likely to have this problem. Drinking alcohol, exercising, standing for long periods or being in hot weather may make the problem worse. To lessen the problem, get up gradually and hold onto something for support if possible. Avoid drinking too much alcohol and be careful in hot weather or when exercising or standing for a long time.
Anyone who is taking a diuretic should be sure to tell the health care professional in charge before having surgical or dental procedures, medical tests or emergency treatment.
Some diuretics make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Even brief exposure to sun can cause a severe sunburn, itching, a rash, redness, or other changes in skin color. While being treated with this medicine, avoid being in direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; wear a hat and tightly woven clothing that covers the arms and legs; use a sunscreen with a skin protection factor (SPF) of at least 15; protect the lips with a sun block lipstick; and do not use tanning beds, tanning booths, or sunlamps. People with fair skin may need to use a sunscreen with a higher skin protection factor.
People who have certain medical conditions or who are taking certain other medicines may have problems if they take diuretics. Before taking these drugs, be sure to let the physician know about any of these conditions:
Anyone who has had unusual reactions to diuretics or sulfonamides (sulfa drugs) in the past should let his or her physician know before using a diuretic. The physician should also be told about any allergies to foods, dyes, preservatives, or other substances.
Diuretics will not help the swelling of hands and feet that some women have during pregnancy. In general, pregnant women should not use diuretics unless a physician recommends their use. Although studies have not been done on pregnant women, studies of laboratory animals show that some diuretics can cause harmful effects when taken during pregnancy.
Some diuretics pass into breast milk, but no reports exist of problems in nursing babies whose mothers use this medicine. However, thiazide diuretics may decrease the flow of breast milk. Women who are breastfeeding and need to use a diuretic should check with their physicians.
Other medical conditions
Side effects of some diuretics may be more likely in people who have had a recent heart attack or who have liver disease or severe kidney disease. Other diuretics may not work properly in people with liver disease or severe kidney disease.
Diuretics may worsen certain medical conditions, such as gout, kidney stones, pancreatitis, lupus erythematosus and hearing problems. In addition, people with diabetes should be aware that diuretics may increase blood sugar levels. People with heart or blood vessel disease should know that some diuretics increase cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
The risk of an allergic reaction to certain diuretics is greater in people with bronchial asthma. Before using diuretics, people with any of these medical problems should make sure their physicians are aware of their conditions. Also, people who have trouble urinating or who have high potassium levels in their blood may not be able to take diuretics and should check with a physician before using them.
Use of certain medicines
Taking diuretics with certain other drugs may affect the way the drugs work or may increase the chance of side effects.
Some side effects, such as loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and dizziness, usually lessen or go away as the body adjusts to the medicine. These problems do not need medical attention unless they continue or interfere with normal activities.
Patients taking potassium-sparing diuretics should know the signs of too much potassium and should check with a physician as soon as possible if any of these symptoms occur:
•Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet or lips
•Confusion or nervousness
•Unusual tiredness or weakness
•Weak or heavy feeling in the legs.
Patients taking diuretics that cause potassium loss should know the signs of too little potassium and should check with a physician as soon as possible if they have any of these symptoms:
•Fast or irregular heartbeat
•Nausea or vomiting
•Muscle cramps or pain
•Unusual tiredness or weakness
•Mental or mood changes.
Diuretics may interact with other medicines. When this happens, the effects of one or both of the drugs may change or the risk of side effects may be greater. Anyone who takes a diuretic should let the physician know all other medicines he or she is taking and should ask whether the possible interactions can interfere with drug therapy. Among the drugs that may interact with diuretics are:
•Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten) and enalapril (Vasotec), used to treat high blood pressure. Taking these drugs with potassium-sparing diuretics may cause levels of potassium in the blood to be too high, increasing the chance of side effects.
•Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as cholestyramine (Questran) and colestipol (Colestid). Taking these drugs with combination diuretics such as Dyazide and Maxzide may keep the diuretic from working. Take the diuretic at least 1 hour before or 4 hours after the cholesterol-lowering drug.
•Cyclosporine (Sandimmune), a medicine that suppresses the immune system. Taking this medicine with potassium-sparing diuretics may increase the chance of side effects by causing levels of potassium in the blood to be too high.
•Potassium supplements, other medicines containing potassium, or salt substitutes that contain potassium. Taking these with potassium-sparing diuretics may lead to too much potassium in the blood, increasing the chance of side effects.
•Lithium, used to treat bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). Using this medicine with potassium-sparing diuretics may allow lithium to build up to poisonous levels in the body.
•Digitalis heart drugs, such as digoxin (Lanoxin). Using this medicine with combination diuretics such as triamterene-hydrocholorthiazide (Dyazide, Maxzide) may cause blood levels of the heart medicine to be too high, making side effects such as changes in heartbeat more likely.
The list above does not include every drug that may interact with diuretics. Check with a physician or pharmacist before combining diuretics with any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicine.
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