High Blood Pressure and Diuretics (Water Pills)
Guidelines for Taking Diuretics
Here are some general guidelines if you're taking a diuretic:
- Before a diuretic is prescribed, tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications that may have been prescribed by another physician or any over-the-counter or herbal remedies. Also, tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems.
- Follow your doctor's instructions on how often you should take the diuretic. If you are taking a single dose a day, it might be better to take it in the morning instead of at night, so that you will not have your sleep interrupted by frequent trips to the bathroom. (This is more pertinent for patients with congestive heart failure or patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension). Talk to your doctor before changing the timing of your medications.
- While taking a diuretic, have your blood pressure and kidney function tested regularly, as advised by your doctor.
- Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory so that your response to this drug can be monitored.
Food or Drug Interactions of Diuretics
Diuretics are often prescribed in combination with other blood pressure and heart medications as a single pill. This could increase the effects of these other medications or contribute to abnormalities in your electrolyte levels, such as potassium.
If you experience an increase in side effects after taking your medications together, contact your doctor. You may need to change the times you are taking each medication.
Follow your doctor's dietary advice, which may include:
- Following a low-sodium [or salt] diet.
- Taking a potassium supplement or including high-potassium foods (such as bananas and orange juice). Note: some types of diuretics cause your body to lose potassium.
- If you are taking a "potassium-sparing" diuretic, such as Aldactone, your doctor may want you to avoid potassium-rich foods, salt substitutes, low-sodium milk, and other dietary sources of potassium.
Alcohol and sleep aids may increase the side effects of this medication and should be avoided.
Can Pregnant Women Take Diuretics?
Diuretic use during pregnancy is not recommended. The effects of the drug on the unborn baby are unknown.