Can diuretics decrease potassium level?

Answer From Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.

Yes, some diuretics — also called water pills — decrease potassium in the blood. Diuretics are commonly used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). They lower blood pressure by helping the body eliminate sodium and water through the urine. However, some diuretics can also cause the body to eliminate more potassium in the urine. This can lead to low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia).

Signs and symptoms of low potassium (hypokalemia) include:

  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness

Medications called potassium-sparing diuretics don't lower potassium levels. Examples include spironolactone (Aldactone, Carospir), eplerenone (Inspra) and triamterene (Dyrenium).

Treatment of low potassium may include:

  • Changing to a potassium-sparing diuretic
  • Increasing potassium in the diet
  • Taking potassium supplements

Some medications used to treat high blood pressure may also increase potassium levels. They include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin 2 receptor blockers (ARBs) and renin inhibitors.

If you're taking an ACE inhibitor with a diuretic and getting enough potassium in your diet but your potassium level is still low, your health care provider may recommend further testing to help identify the underlying cause.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

May 27, 2022 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Medication-free hypertension control
  2. Alcohol: Does it affect blood pressure?
  3. Alpha blockers
  4. Amputation and diabetes
  5. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  6. Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  7. Anxiety: A cause of high blood pressure?
  8. Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis
  9. Artificial sweeteners: Any effect on blood sugar?
  10. AskMayoMom Pediatric Urology
  11. Beta blockers
  12. Beta blockers: Do they cause weight gain?
  13. Beta blockers: How do they affect exercise?
  14. Birth control pill FAQ
  15. Blood glucose meters
  16. Blood glucose monitors
  17. Blood pressure: Can it be higher in one arm?
  18. Blood pressure chart
  19. Blood pressure cuff: Does size matter?
  20. Blood pressure: Does it have a daily pattern?
  21. Blood pressure: Is it affected by cold weather?
  22. Blood pressure medication: Still necessary if I lose weight?
  23. Blood pressure medications: Can they raise my triglycerides?
  24. Blood pressure readings: Why higher at home?
  25. Blood pressure test
  26. Blood pressure tip: Get more potassium
  27. Blood pressure tip: Get off the couch
  28. Blood pressure tip: Know alcohol limits
  29. Blood pressure tip: Stress out no more
  30. Blood pressure tip: Watch the caffeine
  31. Blood pressure tip: Watch your weight
  32. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate for many reasons
  33. Blood sugar testing: Why, when and how
  34. Bone and joint problems associated with diabetes
  35. How kidneys work
  36. Bump on the head: When is it a serious head injury?
  37. Caffeine and hypertension
  38. Calcium channel blockers
  39. Calcium supplements: Do they interfere with blood pressure drugs?
  40. Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?
  41. Central-acting agents
  42. Choosing blood pressure medications
  43. Chronic daily headaches
  44. Chronic kidney disease
  45. Coarctation of the aorta
  46. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk of serious symptoms?
  47. Cushing syndrome
  48. DASH diet
  49. DASH diet
  50. DASH diet: Recommended servings
  51. DASH diet: Shopping and cooking tips
  52. Diabetes
  53. Diabetes and depression: Coping with the two conditions
  54. Diabetes and exercise: When to monitor your blood sugar
  55. Diabetes and fasting: Can I fast during Ramadan?
  56. Diabetes and foot care
  57. Diabetes and heat
  58. 10 ways to avoid diabetes complications
  59. Diabetes diet: Should I avoid sweet fruits?
  60. Diabetes diet: Create your healthy-eating plan
  61. Diabetes foods: Can I substitute honey for sugar?
  62. Diabetes and liver
  63. Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar
  64. Diabetes: Eating out
  65. Diabetes nutrition: Sweets
  66. Diabetes symptoms
  67. Diabetes treatment: Can cinnamon lower blood sugar?
  68. Using insulin
  69. Diuretics
  70. Diuretics: Cause of gout?
  71. Dizziness
  72. Do infrared saunas have any health benefits?
  73. Do you know your blood pressure?
  74. Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
  75. High blood pressure and exercise
  76. Fibromuscular dysplasia
  77. Free blood pressure machines: Are they accurate?
  78. Home blood pressure monitoring
  79. Glomerulonephritis
  80. Glycemic index: A helpful tool for diabetes?
  81. Guillain-Barre syndrome
  82. Headaches 101: Know your type
  83. Headaches and hormones
  84. Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms
  85. Herbal supplements and heart drugs
  86. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  87. High blood pressure and cold remedies: Which are safe?
  88. High blood pressure and sex
  89. High blood pressure: Can you prevent it?
  90. High blood pressure dangers
  91. How opioid addiction occurs
  92. How to tell if a loved one is abusing opioids
  93. Hunter syndrome
  94. What is hypertension? A Mayo Clinic expert explains.
  95. Hypertension FAQs
  96. Hypertensive crisis: What are the symptoms?
  97. Hypothermia
  98. IgA nephropathy (Berger's disease)
  99. Insulin and weight gain
  100. Intracranial hematoma
  101. Isolated systolic hypertension: A health concern?
  102. What is kidney disease? An expert explains
  103. Kidney disease FAQs
  104. Kratom for opioid withdrawal
  105. L-arginine: Does it lower blood pressure?
  106. Late-night eating: OK if you have diabetes?
  107. Lead poisoning
  108. Low-phosphorus diet: Helpful for kidney disease?
  109. Medications and supplements that can raise your blood pressure
  110. Menopause and high blood pressure: What's the connection?
  111. Molar pregnancy
  112. MRI: Is gadolinium safe for people with kidney problems?
  113. New Test for Preeclampsia
  114. Nighttime headaches: Relief
  115. Nosebleeds
  116. Obstructive sleep apnea
  117. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  118. Pain Management
  119. Pheochromocytoma
  120. Picnic Problems: High Sodium
  121. Pituitary tumors
  122. Polycystic kidney disease
  123. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  124. Porphyria
  125. Postpartum preeclampsia
  126. Preeclampsia
  127. Prescription drug abuse
  128. Primary aldosteronism
  129. Pulse pressure: An indicator of heart health?
  130. Mayo Clinic Minute: Rattlesnakes, scorpions and other desert dangers
  131. Reactive hypoglycemia: What can I do?
  132. Reading food labels
  133. Renal diet for vegetarians
  134. Resperate: Can it help reduce blood pressure?
  135. Sample DASH menus
  136. Scorpion sting
  137. Secondary hypertension
  138. Serotonin syndrome
  139. Sleep deprivation: A cause of high blood pressure?
  140. Sleep tips
  141. Vegetable recipes
  142. Blood sugar testing
  143. Snoring
  144. Snoring solution: Sleep on your side
  145. Spider bites
  146. Stress and headaches: Stop the cycle
  147. Stress and high blood pressure
  148. Symptom Checker
  149. Takayasu's arteritis
  150. Tapering off opioids: When and how
  151. Tetanus
  152. Tetanus shots: Is it risky to receive 'extra' boosters?
  153. The dawn phenomenon: What can you do?
  154. Infographic: Transplant for Polycystic Kidney Disease
  155. Vasodilators
  156. Vegetarian diet: Can it help me control my diabetes?
  157. Vesicoureteral reflux
  158. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  159. How diabetes affects your blood sugar
  160. How to measure blood pressure using a manual monitor
  161. How to measure blood pressure using an automatic monitor
  162. Obstructive sleep apnea: What happens?
  163. What is blood pressure?
  164. Can having vitamin D deficiency cause high blood pressure?
  165. What are opioids and why are they dangerous?
  166. What's your high blood pressure risk?
  167. White coat hypertension
  168. Wrist blood pressure monitors: Are they accurate?
  169. Effectively managing chronic kidney disease