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What Is Furosemide?

A doctor should be consulted for persistent or severe side effects from taking furosemide.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Furosemide is a generic form of the drug Lasix®, and is a type of diuretic called a loop diuretic. Most simply, it works on the kidneys, causing them to release more urine than usual. This can have a beneficial effect for many conditions that cause water retention. Some of the main conditions for which furosemide is prescribed include congestive heart failure and many different forms of edema (water retention). The drug can also reduce blood pressure by reducing fluid volume.

There are two principal forms in which furosemide is available by prescription. It comes in a pill and also a solution form. The solution form is especially useful when treating children, as the drug is used often after surgeries for certain congenital heart defects. Dosing varies depending on age, size and condition, but it must be followed exactly.

Most people find, if given the option, that it is easier to take this medicine during the day because it usually causes a much greater need to urinate. Taking it at night, especially at bedtime, can either create nighttime accidents or interrupt sleep. The need to urinate usually slows down in about six hours, and the brand name Lasix® has been said to be short for “lasts six hours.”

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While great benefit exists with drugs like furosemide, the medicine is not appropriate to everyone and can have mild to severe side effects, plus interactions with other drugs. The main risk of using this medication, especially without proper fluid intake, is that dehydration may result, and in severe cases, this can throw off electrolyte balance and cause illness that includes vomiting and severe confusion. People need to consult with their physicians about the proper amount of fluid intake needed while using the drug. The chief medical conditions that contraindicate use of furosemide are many forms of kidney disease, liver disease, pregnancy or nursing, diabetes, or gout.

Very adverse side effects of Lasix® include no urination, which can suggest severe kidney dysfunction. Symptoms of dehydration like confusion, nausea, weakness, dizziness, vomiting and extremely dry mouth should also be watched for. Sometimes a rash develops, or people get jaundice with yellow skin and yellow on the whites of the eyes. Furosemide may additionally result in allergic reaction. These side effects need immediate medical attention.

Milder side effects of furosemide are also noted. Some people get headaches or feel dizzy or numb when they take this medicine. The diuretic can cause stomach upset, and both constipation and diarrhea have been recorded as potential side effects. A few people experience changes in vision and especially report their vision as blurry. Should these side effects remain unchanged, people should consult their doctors.

There are many medicines that may interact with furosemide, including drugs like lithium, aspirin, and common steroids. Patients should discuss with their doctor or pharmacist how any medicine might have an effect that combines with Lasix® to produce negative results. Not only prescription drugs, but any over the counter drugs, herbs, and supplements should be mentioned in such a discussion.

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