A type of drug that increases the amount of water and salt expelled in the urine. Commonly called water pills, diuretics are often used to treat high blood pressure. As excess water and salt are removed from the body, the heart pumps less blood, and eventually more blood flows into the body’s tissues. Both of these effects can help to lower blood pressure.
The advantages of diuretics are their low cost and their proven ability to decrease a person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke. On the downside, people who take diuretics often have to urinate frequently. Other common side effects include erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, muscle cramps, and fatigue. In people with diabetes, diuretics can cause short-term disruption in blood sugar control.
If you are experiencing troublesome side effects from your blood pressure medicine, consult your doctor. Often, there are other drugs you could be taking that don’t cause these side effects.