How Do Diuretics Work?


Quick Answer

Diuretics lower blood pressure by causing the kidneys to flush more sodium and water from the body, according to WebMD. This action relaxes the blood vessel walls, increasing blood circulation. Also called water pills, diuretics increase urination frequency.

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Full Answer

Raised blood pressure can be the result of too much salt causing excess fluid buildup in blood vessels. Thiazide, loop and potassium-sparing diuretics affect different parts of the body. Thiazide diuretics are used to treat high blood pressure. People with heart failure, kidney problems or swelling in their legs are prescribed loop diuretics. Potassium-sparing diuretics, along with other diuretics, are used for people with low potassium levels. One pill can contain more than one kind of diuretic, adds Mayo Clinic.

People taking diuretics may experience side effects, including increased uric acid levels, skin rash, feeling thirsty or weak and raised blood sugar levels. Most people experience these side effects from a new medicine or from taking an increased dose, claims Blood Pressure UK. Hypokalaemia, a condition in which the amount of potassium in the body is too low, is a possible serious side effect of thiazide or loop diuretics. Potassium-sparing diuretics may cause an elevated level of potassium in the blood. People taking beta-blockers with a thiazide diuretic have an increased risk of developing diabetes, according to Mayo Clinic.

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