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What Is Chlorthalidone?

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  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2014
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Chlorthalidone is a medication that helps treat high blood pressure. It is known as a water pill, or a diuretic. This specific high blood pressure treatment reduces water retention, often caused by heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease. It works by increasing the efficacy of the kidneys in removing excess salt and water from the bloodstream, which lowers blood pressure. Some patients may take other drugs in addition to the water pill.

This water pill is only available in the form of a tablet. While it is usually taken once daily, other patients may be directed to take one dose every two days. It is best taken immediately after breakfast. Adults will typically take a dosage between 25 to 50 milligrams, however, the doctor may adjust this as needed. The dosage for children taking chlorthalidone will be determined on an individual basis by the prescribing physician.

A common side effect of chlorthalidone is frequent urination. Most patients find that their bodies acclimate after a few weeks and urination frequency normalizes. Persistent side effects may be reported to the physician, including dizziness, stomach upset, and vomiting. It may also cause loss of appetite, cramps, and muscle weakness, as well as hair loss.

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Patients should get medical help immediately if they experience any severe side effects from chlorthalidone. These can include a blistering or peeling skin rash, problems breathing or swallowing, and a fever. Sore throat and unusual bruising may also occur.

Taking this drug can increase the risk of hypokalemia, which is severe potassium loss. This potentially dangerous condition may cause seizures, an increased heartbeat, and excessive fatigue. Patients may also notice unusual drowsiness, muscle pains, and excessive thirst.

Chlorthalidone is only one part of a treatment plan for high blood pressure. Patients must follow their doctor's or nutritionist's diet recommendations, such as a high-potassium and low-salt diet. Although daily exercise is strongly recommended for optimum health, patients should always discuss their fitness routine with their physician.

People taking chlorthalidone will likely have blood tests done at regular intervals so the doctor may check for effectiveness and possible complications. The physician should advise the patient to refrain from consuming alcohol and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. Other precautions include examining the patient's full medical history, including other drugs and medical conditions. Patients with gout, diabetes, or thyroid disease may be unable to take chlorthalidone. In addition, chlorthalidone may interact with other drugs, including over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, vitamins, and other blood pressure medications.

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