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Diuretics

E.g. Bendroflumethiazide, furosemide, and bumetanide.

What do Diuretics do?

How do I take them?

Side effects

What else should I know?

What do diuretics do?

Diuretics (water tablets) help to remove water and salt from your body.  There are two types of diuretic; gentle, long-acting ones e.g. bendroflumethiazide (bendrofluazide) which are usually used to treat high blood pressure, and powerful short-acting ones e.g. furosemide (frusemide), bumetanide which are usually used for fluid retention.

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How do I take them?

  • You usually take gentle, long acting diuretics by mouth once each day in the morning. The effects of bendroflumethiazide (bendrofluazide) start within 1-2 hours of taking and can make you pass more urine for the first 14 days when taking it. For many people though the bendroflumethiazide (bendrofluazide) 2.5mg dose does not usually make them pass more water. 

  • It is best to take the bendroflumethiazide (bendroflazide) each morning as it is easier to remember. 

  • The powerful, short acting diuretics can be taken once or twice a day and at any time when it is most convenient. Furosemide (frusemide) and bumetanide will make you want to empty your bladder about half an hour after you take them.  The effect will last for about 6 hours so if you are taking the tablets twice a day make sure you take the last dose in the afternoon at least 8 hours before going to bed.

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Side effects

Diuretics don't usually cause any problems, however they can lower the amount of potassium in the body and your GP will check this with blood tests.  It is important to continue to drink fluid normally (unless fluid intake is restricted by your doctor) as you can become dehydrated if you reduce your fluid or when the weather is hot. High doses of water tablets may worsen or occasionally cause  gout.  If you are affected please discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.

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What else should I know?

A high salt (sodium chloride) intake can worsen fluid retention and counteract the beneficial effects of diuretic medication. Therefore you should reduce the amount of salt (sodium) in your diet and avoid adding salt to your food. Processed foods, e.g. canned foods and takeaways, contain very high levels of salt and you should avoid them if possible.

You should also always check with your pharmacist before you buy any medication as some items have a high sodium content e.g. effervescent (fizzy) tablets and remedies for heartburn and indigestion.  You should avoid "Lo Salt" as it contains a lot of potassium which can cause problems in people with heart disease and with certain medicines.

If you think you have any side effects from this medicine be sure to mention them to you GP, practice nurse or pharmacist.

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