Diuretics get their name from the way they promote diuresis in the body. Diuresis is essentially the expulsion of fluids from the body through urination. Commonly, diuretics are known as water pills, and these names can be used interchangeably. They can be bought over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor, depending on the exact need. Most people, however, tend to buy them over-the-counter. There are various reasons that an individual would use a diuretic, but regardless of the reason, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before deciding to take a diuretic.
Uses of Diuretics
Depending on the specific diuretic, the reason for taking it can be to cure an ailment; in this case it would be a homeopathic remedy.
Many people take diuretics to prevent and treat fluid retention. Those who suffer from edema, which is swelling of the bodily tissues, are often prescribed or choose to use diuretics.
Mistakenly, some people take diuretics as a weight-loss aide. It does help the numbers on the scale go down, but only temporarily because true weight loss entails fat loss, not just water loss; water loss occurs with diuretics. Some people choose to use them as a weight loss aide when they need to lose weight in a short period of time. Once the water pills are ceased to be taken, the weight will come right back unless other measures, such as improving the diet and starting to exercise, are started.
Heart conditions, for example high blood pressure, can be somewhat helped with diuretics. For high blood pressure, diuretics help because not only is water released from the body, but also other fluids, like excess salts in the blood, which can ultimately help lower blood pressure.
There are different types of diuretics, but only a few can be bought over-the-counter. Most of them have to be prescribed by a doctor. St. John’s wort and 5-hydroxytryptophan are common ingredients used in over-the-counter diuretics. St. John’s wort is a natural herb found in diuretics. 5-hydroxytrptophan is also found in diuretics, but may have a negative effect on the liver. There are other ingredients that are present in the various over-the-counter water pills, and it is extremely important that you talk with your doctor about the specific pill beforehand.
Are water pills safe? Taking a substance that results in a large amount of fluid being lost from the body can undoubtedly lead to consequences.
Serious side effects
It is important to look for signs of dehydration and potassium deficiency, which can both be side effects of diuretics. Potassium deficiency symptoms are typically an irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, confusion or nervousness, and a weak or heavy feeling in the legs.
Mild side effects
Dizziness, muscle fatigue, and exhaustion are common side effects if too many fluids are lost through the use of diuretics. Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea are also different side effects that can occur; you can either wait until your body adjusts to the medicine or stop taking it altogether.
For those who use them as a weight loss aide, be careful of the addiction that can come with using them.
As an herbal, or homeopathic, remedy, don’t take it if you’re pregnant, attempting to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Take home advice
A good thing to remember is that as long as you don’t go over the recommended dosage and abuse diuretics, you will most likely be just fine taking them.
Diuretics may interact with certain medications, so this is another reason why it is important to inform your doctor before you decide to take a diuretic.