Diuretics, also called water pills are drugs used to treat edema or water retention caused by such medical conditions as high blood pressure, heart failure, glaucoma, kidney failure and ascites. Ascites is the accumulation of fluids in the abdominal cavity due to liver disease. Diuretics work by preventing the kidneys from reabsorbing sodium, which leads to increased removal of sodium and water from the body.
Diuretics and Low Blood Pressure
Hypotension or low blood pressure is a side effect of diuretics. Diuretics cause the kidneys to flush out sodium and water from the body. Sodium is a mineral that maintains proper blood volume and pressure by causing the body to retain water. Patients taking diuretics often experience orthostatic, or postural, hypotension, which is a sudden drop in blood pressure upon rising from a prone or sitting position. Patients with orthostatic hypotension may experience dizziness and fainting due to reduced blood flow to the brain.
Patients taking diuretics are often advised on self-care measures to prevent hypotension. Patients should stand up gradually to allow the body to adjust to the sudden blood pressure changes. Patients who experience orthostatic hypotension should consult the doctor about having their diuretic dosage lowered. Wearing elastic stockings can also help prevent orthostatic hypotension by preventing the pooling of blood in the leg veins. Increased fluid intake helps prevent orthostatic hypotension in healthy people. Patients with heart problems, such as heart failure and hypertension, should consult the doctor before increasing fluid intake because excess fluids can worsen their conditions.
Prolonged hypotension causes decreased blood flow to vital body organs, which leads to poor functioning of many body systems. Patients on diuretics should always assess their blood pressure levels before taking diuretics. Low blood pressure levels should be reported to the doctor immediately. Severe hypotension is treated using blood administration and medications to increase blood pressure and the heart's pumping force, according to PubMedHealth.
Types of diuretics
Commonly used diuretics drugs include loop, thiazide and potassium-sparing diuretics. Loop diuretics are used to treat hypertension and edema caused by congestive heart failure, cirrhosis or kidney failure. Examples of loop diuretics include furosemide, bumetanide and torsemide, according to Drugs.com.Thiazide diuretics are mainly used to treat high blood pressure. Thiazide diuretics decrease fluid retention by causing increased urination. Examples of thiazide diuretics include Esidrix, Hydrocholothiazide and Chlorothiazide. Potassium-sparing diuretics reduce the amount of fluid in the body by causing the kidneys to increase the flow of urine. Unlike some other diuretics, these medications do not cause the body to lose potassium. Examples of potassium-sparing diuretics include aldactone, Amiloride and spironolactone.