Water pills

Water pills, commonly known as diuretics, are used to remove excess fluid build-up in the body. Medical reasons take higher priority than weight loss reasons; actually, when water pills are used for weight loss, a dangerous situation will likely result. The safe and medically necessary diagnoses’ that use water pills as a form of treatment include excessive swelling because of water retainment in the body, high blood pressure, removing certain toxins from the body, edema (swelling), liver or kidney disease, and heart failure. The effects of the pill are often immediate and result in less swelling of the fluid-filled areas. Believe it or not, some common foods and beverages have natural diuretic properties: coffee, parsley, juniper, goldenrod, and bearberry.

Not to be Used for Weight Loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, water pills are only a short term fix. This imagined weight loss is only the result of fluid loss; water is a very heavy liquid. Weight lost this way may be substantial, but it certainly is not sustainable. A few problems caused by using water pills for this purpose are abnormally low blood pressure, an imbalance of electrolytes, and others. There are better and safer ways to lose weight.

Categories of Diuretics
There are several different types of water pills, each acting through a slightly different mechanism. However, more or less, they do the same thing in that they remove excess bodily fluids.

  • Loop Diuretics: These types of diuretics interfere with the body’s ability to absorb sodium. Water leaves the body with sodium, so more of this fluid appears in the urine.
  • Thiazide Diuretics: Thiazides work in similar ways to loop water pills—they cause the body to retain potassium, which results in a higher excretion rate of sodium, and therefore water.
  • Calcium-Sparing Diuretics: These work the same way as thiazide diuretics, except that they retain calcium.
  • Osmotic Diuretics: Glucose, thus urine output, is increased.
  • Digitalis Diuretics: These increase cardiac output, therefore increasing circulation to the kidneys. Since the kidneys are functioning at a higher rate, they will cause more urine excretion.

Guidelines for Safely Taking Diuretics
There are some general recommendations to follow when taking water pills.

  • Tell your doctor of any medications or supplements you’re taking before starting on a water pill.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions explicitly.
  • Only take water pills under the supervision of a doctor.
  • Sometimes, your doctor will need to perform routine check-up tests, such as checking your kidney function, blood pressure, and electrolyte status.
  • Don’t eat foods high in sodium.
  • Avoid alcohol and sleep aids while on diuretics because the pill’s side effects could be enhanced.

Side Effects
As with most medications and supplements there is a list of side effects that may occur in some people, while others will be free and in the clear of any distressful occurrences. Here is a list of common symptoms related to side effects:

  • Frequent urination
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid weight loss (remember, this is only due to a loss of fluid)
  • Skin rash
  • Loss of appetite or disordered eating

Who Can Take Diuretics?
If you’re even considering taking a water pill, consult with your physician and he or she will tell you if this is a safe and reasonable choice. Don’t take this medication if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Children and the elderly will generally do just fine on diuretics, but checking with a doctor is the best way to know for sure.


Last updated on Jun 17th, 2010 and filed under Drugs and Medications. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Water pills”

  1. JLundholm says:

    The use of diuretics for weight loss is dangerous. This can’t be emphasized enough. In fact, even though I am a big proponent of medical self care, any condition for which a person might take a water pill is a condition that needs the attention of a physician.

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