Uses for diuretics

The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends that most people try thiazide diuretics first to treat high blood pressure and heart problems related to high blood pressure.

If diuretics aren't enough to lower your blood pressure, your doctor might recommend adding medications such as calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers or beta blockers to your blood pressure treatment.

In addition, doctors prescribe certain diuretics to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Heart failure
  • Liver failure
  • Tissue swelling (edema)
  • Certain kidney disorders, such as kidney stones

Side effects and cautions

Diuretics are generally safe, but they do have some side effects, such as increased urination and mineral loss.

Diuretics can also affect blood potassium levels. You can develop too much potassium (hyperkalemia) if you take a potassium-sparing diuretic or too little potassium (hypokalemia) if you take a thiazide diuretic.

Other possible side effects of diuretics include:

  • Low sodium in your blood (hyponatremia)
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint disorders (gout)
  • Impotence
June 10, 2016 See more In-depth