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What are diuretics?

To put it simply, diuretics are medications that, when taken, eliminate the excess water in the body through urination. They are also known as water pills and there are three basic types of them: potassium sparing, hiazides and loop diuretics.

Why do people take diuretics?

The main reason people take diuretics is to eliminate excess body fluids or water. Sometimes, due to different causes, there is an accumulation of excess water in the body, which manifests itself in different ways, one of them being edema. Edema is swelling of the tissues do to excess water accumulation.

People who suffer from certain heart conditions sometimes need to take diuretics. Excess water hampers the normal blood flow throughout the body and puts too much strain on the heart.

Diuretics are sometimes prescribed for people who have high blood pressure. When the amount of fluid in the blood stream is reduced, the pressure is also reduced.

Water retention can occur for a number of reasons and medical conditions, like congestive heart failure, kidney disease and liver disease. In these cases doctors prescribe diuretics along with other medications.

Some people take diuretics for the purpose of weight loss. Water makes up a large portion of body weight and naturally when it is expelled from the body the body weight is lower. This, however, is not an effective weight loss plan as it does not reduce the actual body mass or body fat.

Some athletes take diuretics not only to reduce their weight but also to wash out traces of anabolic steroids, which are illegal, so they cannot be noticed on tests.

Side effects of diuretics

Even though diuretics have their purpose, they also involve several side effects, especially if used too much and too often.

Using too much diuretics will not only eliminate excess water but it will also hamper the normal levels of fluid in the body, potentially leading to dehydration, which is a very serious issue. Some of the side effects of diuretics include frequent urination, especially during the night, muscle cramps, excessive thirst, low blood pressure, arrhythmia, muscle weakness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and, in severe cases, lethargy, seizures and coma.

Diuretics should be taken only if a doctor prescribes them. Even then, they should be taken carefully, in prescribed dosages, otherwise there is a serious risk of the side effects described above.

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