What are the Different Types of Diuretics Side Effects?

Jennifer Voight

The side effects of diuretics may include frequent urination, loss of appetite, weakness, dizziness, arrhythmia (rare), problems with electrolyte levels, muscle cramps, rash, low blood sodium, high levels of blood sugar, high cholesterol, gout, menstrual problems, impotence, and breast enlargement in men. Some of these diuretics side effects appear almost immediately as the body adjusts to the drug and taper off gradually. Other side effects may appear over time.

Weight loss is a temporary side effect of potassium-sparing diuretics.
Weight loss is a temporary side effect of potassium-sparing diuretics.

Diuretics are medications that help the body get rid of excess water and salt in the blood. There are three main types of diuretics: thiazides, loop diuretics, and potassium sparing diuretics.

Serious symptoms like headaches, seizures, and coma, are abnormal, but do occur in some people who take diuretics.
Serious symptoms like headaches, seizures, and coma, are abnormal, but do occur in some people who take diuretics.

Diuretics are prescribed to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, and edema. The type of diuretic prescribed depends on the condition it is meant to treat. Since each works a little differently, side effects will differ.

Gout is a possible side effect of diuretics.
Gout is a possible side effect of diuretics.

Thiazides work by widening the blood vessels. They are the only type of diuretic used to treat high blood pressure. Some of the most common thiazide diuretics are Chlorthalidone, Indapamide, Metolazone, and Diuril. Common side effects associated with thiazides are frequent urination, low potassium levels, and increased sensitivity to light. Thiazides may also cause low levels of calcium, magnesium, and folic acid.

Diuretics may cause people to urinate frequently.
Diuretics may cause people to urinate frequently.

Loop diuretics are used to treat congestive heart failure and edema. Some examples of loop diuretics are Lasix, Bumex, Demadex, Edecrin, and Myrosemide. Since loop diuretics are the most powerful and the quickest-acting of the three types of diuretics, side effects most frequently include increased urination. As a result of the quick loss of fluid, low potassium levels, gout and high blood sugar can also result. Occasionally, low electrolyte levels can result in an irregular heart beat.

Diuretics can cause muscle cramps.
Diuretics can cause muscle cramps.

The use of potassium-sparing diuretics eliminates the loss of potassium that occurs with thiazides and loop diuretics. The most common potassium-sparing diuretics are Aldactone, Dyrenium, and Midamor. Some temporary potassium-sparing diuretics side effects that occur are indigestion, diarrhea, weight loss, abnormal vision, abnormal hearing, and lowered libido. These conditions typically go away in time. More serious side effects, like vomiting, coma, headaches, seizures, are not normal and should be evaluated by a physician.

Diuretics side effects may include menstrual problems.
Diuretics side effects may include menstrual problems.

Doctors will advise precautions to lessen the severity of diuretics side effects. If potassium loss is a concern, a potassium supplement may be prescribed by a doctor. When taking potassium-sparing diuretics, foods high in potassium should be avoided, as they can cause potassium levels to go too high. Doctors may also advise avoiding sleep medications, alcohol, and foods high in sodium.

Diuretics side effects may include dizziness.
Diuretics side effects may include dizziness.

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Discussion Comments

gravois

One problem I always have when I am on diuretics is I get headaches, terrible ones. I think it is a result of dehydration. The diuretics pull water out of your system and you become dehydrated, leading to a whole range of other symptoms. For me it's headaches.

Now whenever I am taking something that acts as a diuretic I make sure to drink a lot of extra water. If I don't stay on top of it the headaches come on pretty fast.

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