Most diuretics act on the kidneys to increase the body's output of sodium salts and water in the urine. This can have considerable therapeutic benefits. If the heart is not working efficiently the capacity of the kidneys to excrete salts is impaired, and this in turn means that the body retains more fluid in order to dissolve the resultant salt-overload. Diuretics such as those in the thiazide group act to raise both salt- and water-output by preventing the kidneys from reabsorbing salt from the urine back into the bloodstream. One snag is that, in the process, the kidneys also make the body shed too much potassium, so this deficit has to be made good, especially since one effect of a potassium deficit is to weaken the heart. Sometimes both functions can be performed by a drug that combines the action of a diuretic with that of a potassium conserver.

There is a wide range of diuretics from which your doctor can choose, varying in speed of action, potency and side-effects. So far as adverse reactions are concerned, you should watch out for any of the following and report them to your doctor: nausea, dizziness, rashes, numbness, pins and needles, and allergic reactions. Patients on diuretics should sensibly control their fluid and salt intakes.




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