What does the word diuretics mean? What are its causes and symptoms?
The word does sound like a disease or condition, but diuretics are actually a class of medications.
Sometimes called water pills, diuretics reduce the body’s water volume by increasing the kidneys’ urine production and output. They also increase the excretion of sodium. Some beverages, including coffee and alcohol, may have a mild diuretic effect. But when doctors refer to diuretics, they’re usually talking about one of the dozens of prescription medications used to treat various medical conditions.
Diuretics fall into three general categories: loop diuretics, thiazide diuretics and potassium-sparing diuretics. These classifications are based on the drugs’ chemical compositions and the way they work. They differ in their effects, side effects and potency. Some people may need to take more than one kind of diuretic.
Diuretics may be prescribed to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, certain kidney or liver disorders, and a variety of other problems related to the buildup or retention of fluid (edema) throughout the body. The side effects can be mild, such as the discomfort of having to urinate frequently, or they may be more severe depending on the individual’s health and other medications being taken.
If you receive a prescription for a diuretic drug, talk to both your doctor and pharmacist about how to take it, as well as possible side effects and interactions. Read the label and follow the instructions carefully. Be sure to report any problems or reactions to your doctor.
Diuretics may be found in nonprescription medicines used to reduce the water retention that some women experience before their period. A number of over-the-counter diet products contain diuretics, too. They promote quick weight loss simply by getting rid of water.