Taking a Diuretic
Your healthcare provider has prescribed a diuretic, or “water pill,” to help your body get rid of excess water and salt and maintain appropriate fluid balance. Taking your diuretic can help you feel better, breathe better, move more easily, and have more energy.
The name of my diuretic is:
Read the fact sheet that comes with your medicine. It tells you when and how to take it. Ask for a medicine sheet if you don’t get one.
If you take 2 or more doses each day, take the last one before dinner if you can. That way you’ll get up fewer times during the night to go to the bathroom. However, make sure you have enough time between doses during the day.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take a double dose.
If you miss 2 or more consecutive doses, call your healthcare provider. You may be at risk for fluid buildup.
For your safety
Follow your doctor’s guidelines for potassium intake. You may need to take a potassium supplement. Or, you may need to avoid potassium supplements, salt substitutes with potassium, or large amounts of high-potassium foods (such as bananas, potatoes, broccoli, and milk). Recommendations for potassium will depend on the type of diuretic you are prescribed along with your kidney function and other factors. Your healthcare provider will likely want to check your potassium level regularly while you are taking this medicine.
Talk to your healthcare provider about whether it is safe for you to drink alcohol while taking this medicine.
Get up slowly when you are sitting or lying down. This helps prevent dizziness and falls due to dizziness.
Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist before you take any other prescription or nonprescription medicine or herbal supplements. Some of them may interact with your diuretic and keep it from working correctly.
Limit exposure to sunlight. A diuretic may increase your sensitivity to the sun. Even brief sun exposure may cause skin rash, itching, redness, or other discoloration. It may also lead to severe sunburn. To protect your skin do the following:
Avoid direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., whenever possible.
Apply a daily sunblock of at least SPF 15 (or higher) to any exposed skin, including your lips.
Wear protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses, when you are outdoors.
Avoid sunlamps and tanning booths.
Long-sleeve shirts and pants in the summer can help protect your skin.
When to seek medical advice
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
Have diarrhea, constipation, nausea or vomiting.
Lose your appetite or notice a rapid or excessive weight gain.
Feel extremely tired or weak.
Have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Have numbness or tingling in your hands, feet, or lips or a ringing in your ears.
Feel lightheaded when getting up after sitting or lying down.
Have headaches, blurred vision, or feel a sense of confusion.
Have muscle cramps or joint pain.
Have chest pains or changes in your heartbeat.
Have an excessive thirst or a dry mouth.
Notice a skin rash.
Gain more than 2 pounds in 1 day or 4 pounds in 1 week (ask your healthcare provider for his or her specific direction).
Have any other unusual symptoms.
March 20, 2017
Felker, GM., Loop Diuretics in Acute Decompensated Heart Failure, Circulation (2009);2; 56-62, Mechanism of Action of Diuretics, Up To Date, Use of Diuretics in Patients with Heart Failure, Up To Date, Use of photosensitising diuretics and risk of skin cancer: a population-based case–control study. Jensen, A. British Journal of Cancer. 2008, is. 4, ed. 99, pp. 1522-28.
Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN,Gandelman, Glenn, MD, MPH,Image reviewed by StayWell art team.