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What Are the Most Common Triamterene Side Effects?

Autumn Rivers
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Triamterene is a diuretic often used to treat swelling in the body, because it helps the kidneys remove water and salt from the blood in higher-than-normal amounts. Some patients notice bothersome side effects that tend to go away as the body gets used to the drug. These often include sensitive skin, fatigue and an upset stomach. Other triamterene side effects do not fade with time and should be treated by a doctor, with extreme thirst, reduced urination and other symptoms of dehydration being among the most serious. In addition, some patients may suffer from high potassium levels, jaundice or kidney stones when taking this medication, and these are all considered serious triamterene side effects.

Some triamterene side effects should gradually disappear as patients get used to the medication, so a doctor should be contacted if they persist. For example, patients may find that their skin is more sensitive to the sun than usual when they start taking triamterene, possibly leading to an increased chance of getting a sunburn even with limited exposure. Fatigue, headaches and dizziness also may appear in patients as they get used to taking the medication. Gastrointestinal discomfort may occur, too, because abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea are common triamterene side effects for patients new to this drug.

The point of this medication is to force the kidneys to remove any extra water and salt from the blood so swelling can go down, and this requires increasing urination to get rid of the extra fluids. As such, it is possible for this diuretic to get rid of too much fluid, leading to dehydration, whether mild or severe. Some of the initial signs of dehydration include dry mouth, extreme thirst and a headache. Patients who continue taking this medication may notice muscle cramps, dizziness and a decrease in urination. Some people also may experience vomiting, confusion and an irregular heartbeat, which may be followed by fainting or seizures in extreme cases.

Unlike many other diuretics, triamterene can increase the amount of potassium in the blood, sometimes leading to various symptoms that call for medical attention. For example, muscle weakness, a slow heartbeat and a tingling or burning feeling on the skin can all signal high potassium levels that should be treated by a doctor. Some patients also get kidney stones when taking this medication, causing enough discomfort to warrant a trip to the doctor. Additionally, symptoms of jaundice qualify as serious triamterene side effects, and they tend to include a yellow tint to both the skin and the whites of the eyes.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGEEK, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.

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Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGEEK, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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