Examples of Loop Diuretics
Ethacrynic acid (Edecrin)
What Do They Do in the Body? Increase urination, reduce fluid and water retention, largely by reducing sodium chloride (salt) uptake in your cells.
What Are They Prescribed For? High blood pressure, edema (swelling, water retention, puffiness).
What Are the Possible Side Effects? One of the most common and dangerous side effects of loop diuretics is dehydration caused by too much fluid loss. This can be deadly. An excessive loss of minerals or an imbalance of minerals, called an electrolyte imbalance, may result from taking these drugs. These diuretics are also more likely to cause hypotension, or blood pressure that is too low, which can also be dangerous, and such excessive potassium loss that it becomes life threatening. If your blood pressure is reduced too much, you may get dizzy when you stand up. In addition, high uric acid levels can lead to gout, a painful inflammation usually in the big toe.
Other possible side effects include kidney damage, reversible and irreversible hearing problems, diarrhea, hyperglycemia (diuretics can increase blood glucose) or precipitation of underlying diabetes, raised LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and photosensitivity, a reaction to the sun. These drugs can also cause muscle pain and cramps, restlessness, a wide variety of digestive problems, vision problems, and skin problems.
Think Twice About Taking These Drugs If . . .
• You have lupus.
• You have kidney or liver problems.
• You have diabetes.
• You have urinary tract problems such as an enlarged prostate that interferes with urination. Diuretics can make you even more uncomfortable by increasing the number of times you have to urinate.
What Are the Interactions with Food? The absorption of the drug may be reduced if you take it with food. Also, if you consume too many electrolytes, such as in sports drinks, you may reduce the effectiveness of the drug.
Signs of a Mineral Imbalance
Low blood pressure
Muscle pains or cramps
Nausea and vomiting
Sleepiness and confusion
It’s good to eat plenty of high-potassium foods when taking diuretics that don’t “spare” potassium. Some common high-potassium foods include bananas, citrus fruits, melons, almonds, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, carrots, avocados, and soybeans.
Licorice (not the candy made with anise, but the herb or root) can be an antidiuretic and reduce the actions of these drugs.
Eating a lot of meat can increase uric acid even more, increasing the possibility of gout.
If you are sensitive to MSG, its negative effects can be exaggerated when you’re taking diuretics.
What Nutrients Do They Deplete or Throw out of Balance? Minerals, especially sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Zinc is another important mineral that can be lost. Zinc is crucial to proper immune system functioning, wound healing, and thyroid function.
Taken long-term, loop diuretics cause a depletion of the vitamin thiamine (B1), which plays a key role in the functioning of the nervous system. A deficiency of thiamine can aggravate CHF or other heart problems. Chronic thiamine deficiency can also block enzymes involved in glucose metabolism, which may be why these drugs can cause hypoglycemia.
Diuretics can cause a depletion of vitamin A, which many Americans are already deficient in.
What Else to Take While Taking These Drugs. A good mineral formula that includes zinc, copper, boron, iodine, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, chromium, selenium, and if you’re a premenopausal woman, iron. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
An extra B-complex vitamin supplement that includes at least 50 mg of thiamine. (It’s best to take the B vitamins together.)
Be sure you’re getting both beta-carotene and vitamin A in your multivitamin formula.
Other Tips on These Drugs. They can skew the results of many blood and urine tests. Take them with food, or they may upset your stomach.
Prescription Alternatives: Hundreds of Free, Natural, Prescription-Free Remedies to Restore & Maintain Your Health, by Earl L. Mindell, R.Ph, Ph. D, & Virginia Hopkins, M.A. Published by McGraw-Hill.