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Are Water Pills Safe?

By K T Solis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Water pills, also known as diuretics, are medicines that flush excess water from the body. They are generally considered safe if the user takes the medication as directed. Diuretics are used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, edema, heart failure, and other health problems. Women may take diuretics when they experience water retention.

The most common diuretics prescribed to patients are thiazide, osmotic, loop, and potassium-sparing. Each type of diuretic affects a specific part of the kidneys. When a person takes a diuretic, the pill stimulates the kidneys to flush salt and water from the person's body.

Less sodium and water in the body helps to lower blood pressure, making it easier for the heart to work. Other substances eliminated from the body include magnesium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, and uric acid. Taking a diuretic causes a person to urinate more frequently throughout the day, thereby eliminating water and substances from the kidneys.

A doctor may prescribe water pills to patients, but dosages vary according to a patient's needs. Some patients may take a water pill only two to three times a week. Others may take a diuretic several times a day. Once the patient is administered the medication, the diuretic may begin to work after only an hour has passed.

As with any medication, patients may experience side effects while taking a diuretic. For example, they will experience frequent urination. They may even have to go to the bathroom several times throughout the night. Patients may feel thirstier since a large amount of water is being flushed from the system.

Another side effect may include decreased potassium levels, which can lead to an irregular heartbeat. Some patients who take water pills may experience dizziness, confusion, or mood swings. Rare side effects may include irregular menstrual cycles, deepening of the voice, breast enlargement in both men and women, and increased hair growth.

Before beginning to take a diuretic, the patient should tell the doctor if he or she is taking other medications or supplements. This is because some medicines may cause adverse reactions when used in conjunction with a water pill. Drinking alcohol may also increase the severity of side effects. Some doctors may ask their patients to weigh themselves on a daily basis in order to monitor the amount of water lost while on a diuretic. Doctors will also regularly check a patient's blood pressure and potassium level to ensure that the patient remains in good health.

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Discussion Comments
By anon965489 — On Aug 12, 2014

Girls, please don't take diuretics for weight loss! It can literally kill you. People who take diuretics prescribed by doctors are only doing so because their health problems are more serious than the risks of taking a diuretic.

I saw an online video with a girl who advised taking diuretics to assist with weight loss. If only this terrible misinformation would stop being spread! It will do nothing for the fat on your body. All it will do is cause perhaps a couple of temporary pounds (which is water your body needs to function!), organ damage, and even death! To lose fat, you need to drastically lower the sugars, corn syrups, refined carbohydrates from your diet and don't ingest more than 2,000 calories a day (unless you're in sports or extremely active, then you need more than that!). It's very hard, and very simple, but it won't cause you to live on life support in the hospital or die!

WiseGeek, you need to update your articles about diuretics to give more realistic serious warning about hyponatremia. It doesn't "just" cause seizures (which are serious to begin with) but can cause your heart's electrical system that needs sodium (remember those fun experiments in school about the conductivity of saltwater?) to not function and kills.

Look up the lady who died after drinking a gallon of water in a to win a gaming system called something like "Hold your Wee (pee) for a Wii" on a radio contest. This poor woman is not a rarity. College kids have died from similar contests like trying to get "water drunk" or try to drink a gallon of milk without puking.

It's good to drink half a gallon of water a day. Over the whole day, not all at once. Drinking a large amount of liquid in a short period of time is a disaster waiting to happen. (Like a half gallon in a single hour!). And that's for a full sized adult.

Some people were told to give your baby a couple of bottles of water in the hot months, too, and it's wrong. Ask your pediatrician for literature. Feeding your baby a single full baby bottle of water can kill, too. Not enough people know this.

Water is good, but just like many things in life, too much of even the most harmless substance can cause grave danger. Please pass this on to your friends, family, social media, facebook, and spread the word.

By anon145203 — On Jan 22, 2011

Do water pills help for arthritis?

By anon125030 — On Nov 08, 2010

i am taking water pills to lose weight. am i taking them right? it doesn't affect me?

By anon116317 — On Oct 06, 2010

I develop skin rashes by taking water pills with my blood pressure pills!

By anon102898 — On Aug 10, 2010

I am thirty seven and my bp was high for a week. my doc put me on water pills. How long should I continue to take them if my pressure is back to normal?

By anon99933 — On Jul 27, 2010

is it safe to take water pills while taking a natural dietary supplement?

By anon85301 — On May 19, 2010

What happens if I stop taking my diuretic? I am out of pills, between coverages, and looking for a doctor.

By anon83708 — On May 12, 2010

can i take water pills to lose weight?

By bred — On Apr 27, 2010

My doc said don't drink a lot of water, since i want to get rid of water?

By snappy — On Feb 08, 2010

My doctor said to drink MORE water to help with blood pressure.

Dehydration is also a dangerous possible side-effect.

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