Learn About Diuretics: Types, Working & Side- Effects

The kidneys are in charge of regulating the amount of fluid (water) retained by the body because the levels of sodium, chloride, and water in the body are precisely controlled. Thus, kidneys can manage the retention and removal of sodium and chloride. To make matters even more complicated, various processes that regulate salt and chloride reabsorption are active in various sections of the tubules.

Diuretics, often known as water pills, help the body excrete more water and salt through urine. First, they’re commonly recommended to manage high blood pressure, but they’re also used to treat various significantly other ailments.

Where do diuretics come from, and how do they work?

Diuretics are a kind of meication that increases urine flow (termed diuresis). It functions by eliminating salt and chloride from the body through the urine, which then draws excess water out of the body.

Read about: 8 Signs Of Kidney Disease That You Should Watch Out For!

As previously noted, the quantity of sodium and chloride (sodium chloride, or NaCl) in the body significantly impacts the quantity of water retained by the body; hence, most diuretics work by lowering total-body sodium chloride concentration.

What are some of the conditions that diuretics can help with?

High blood pressure is the most frequent ailment treated with diuretics. The medications assist in lowering various blood pressure by reducing the amount of fluid in your blood vessels.

Diuretics are also used to treat other diseases. Congestive heart failure, for example, prevents your heart from adequately pumping blood throughout the body. This causes edema or the accumulation of fluids in your body. Diuretics can aid in the removal of excess fluid.

Types of diuretics 

Thiazide, loop, and potassium-sparing diuretics are the three categories of diuretic drugs. They all cause your body to expel extra fluids in the form of pee.

1. Thiazide diuretics

The most often administered diuretics are thiazides. They’re most commonly used to treat hypertension. These medications not only reduce fluid retention but also relax your blood vessels. It is sometimes used with other blood pressure medicines. 

Examples of thiazide
  • Chlorthalidone 
  • hydrochlorothiazide 
2. Loop diuretics 

Heart failure is commonly treated with loop diuretics. Torsemide (Demadex) and furosemide are two examples of these medications (Lasix)

Examples of loop diuretics
  • bumetanide (an antibiotic) 
3. Potassium-sparing diuretics

Potassium-sparing diuretics help you lose water without losing potassium, which is a vital vitamin.

The other forms of diuretics induce potassium loss, which can cause health issues. First, they include arrhythmia, and second potassium-sparing diuretics may be administered for persons at risk of potassium deficiency, such as those taking other potassium-depleting drugs.

Courtesy: Reserach Gate

However, they don’t work as effectively as other forms of diuretics in lowering blood pressure. As a result, your doctor may recommend combining a potassium-sparing diuretic with another blood pressure-lowering medicine.

Potassium-sparing diuretics include the following medications:

  • Amiloride
  • triamterene 
  • spironolactone 
  • eplerenone 

Differences between different types of diuretics?

The potency of diuretics is one of the most significant differences between them. In addition, diuretic potency varies owing to changes in diuretic sites on the kidney anatomy.

The most powerful diuretics are loop diuretics, which enhance salt and chloride elimination by blocking sodium and chloride reabsorption. The specific location of action involving the loop of Henle (a part of the renal tubule) in the kidneys accounts for loop diuretics’ remarkable potency. The difference between different types of diuretics are listed below:-

  1. Thiazide diuretics boost salt and chloride removal in nearly equal proportions. They accomplish this by preventing salt and chloride reabsorption in the kidney’s distal convoluted tubules.
  2. Potassium is discharged into the developing urine together with sodium reabsorption in the distal tubule. Potassium-sparing diuretics lower potassium output by reducing salt reabsorption at the distal tubule. Because they are ineffective when taken alone, most typically used in conjunction with thiazide and loop diuretics.
  3. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors act by causing the renal tubules to excrete more sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, and water.
  4. Low-molecular-weight chemicals called osmotic diuretics are filtered out of the circulation and into the tubules, where they are found in large quantities. They function by preventing water, sodium, and chloride from being absorbed again.

Diuretics and its side effects

Diuretics are typically well tolerated when used as directed. They can, however, have certain negative effects. Some of the side effects are listed below:

  1. Sodium deficiency
  2. Dizzy and headache
  3. Muscle cramps as a result of high blood sugar
  4. Cholesterol levels have increased
  5. Gout
Serious negative consequences

Diuretics can have substantial adverse effects in rare circumstances. These can include the following:

  • Response to allergen
  • Renal disease
  • Erratic heartbeat

If you’re using diuretics, then

One of the earliest drugs to treat high blood pressure is thiazide diuretics.

Your doctor may add other blood pressure drugs to your treatment plan if diuretics aren’t adequate to control your blood pressure.

Diuretics are also used to prevent, treat, or alleviate the symptoms of the following conditions:

  • Problem with the liver
  • Swelling of tissues (edema)
  • Kidney stones
  • Heart disease


Diuretics are usually considered to be safe. However, increased urination and salt loss are two significant side effects. In addition, potassium levels in the blood can be affected by diuretics. Your potassium level can drop too low (hypokalemia) if you use a thiazide diuretic, which can create life-threatening complications with your heartbeat.

Dehydration causes increased negative effects in elderly adults, including fainting and dizziness. You’ll need to coordinate your efforts with your physician.

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