Water pills are drugs that are frequently used to treat edema, liver and kidney issues, high blood pressure, and other heart-related problems, but are also sometimes used to reduce water weight. Although these medications can be effective at treating a number of conditions, they may also result in some undesirable reactions. Some of the side effects of water pills can include frequent urination or dehydration, stomach or digestive complaints, and flu-like symptoms.
Since this type of medication is used to flush excess salt and water from the system, some of the side effects of water pills may be the result of a deficiency in certain minerals like sodium or potassium. The symptoms of a sodium deficiency may include muscle cramps, fatigue and disorientation, nausea, and headaches. Over time, this deficiency may also cause seizures, a decrease in muscle functioning, and neurological complications. Potassium deficiencies can result in diarrhea or vomiting, depression, nervousness or irritability, edema, or salt retention. Sometimes people may experience an increase of heart-related problems such as an irregular heartbeat, lowered blood pressure, or, in rare cases, cardiac arrest.
Although there are some side effects of water pills that may be relatively harmless or easily treated with a secondary medication or supplement, others may require medical intervention. For instance, a doctor should be contacted right away if the patient experiences flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, or fever, or if the patient notices a skin rash, ringing in the ears, unusual bleeding, or bruising of the skin. Some side effects may be resolved over time, but a doctor should be contacted if they become persistent or severe. These symptoms can include an increase of perspiration, extreme fatigue or weakness, blurred vision, or confusion.
Urinary and hydration-related side effects of water pills are common and usually resolve on their own, but may also require medical attention if they become severe. One of these issues includes frequent urination, which usually passes within a few hours of taking these medications. Dehydration, on the other hand, often requires a visit to a doctor or emergency room. The symptoms of dehydration can include excessive thirst or dry mouth, a marked decrease in urination or dark-colored urine, constipation, or dizziness. Although milder cases of dehydration may be taken care of at home with drinks containing electrolytes and carbohydrates or juice, more severe cases may require fluid replacement through an intravenous (IV) line.