Furosemide is an inexpensive but strong oral loop diuretic medication used to remove excess body fluids. It is sometimes referred to as a water pill or a water tablet. Furosemide is used to:
- Treat edema or fluid build-up in body tissue due to various medical problems like heart disease, liver scarring, or kidney disease.
- It is used alone or in combination with other medications in treating hypertension or high blood pressure.
- Remove excess fluid that accumulates in the liver among those with liver scarring.
- Remove fluid retention in the ankles and lower legs due to poor blood circulation.
- Drawn water from the blood and into the urine among patients with reduced production of urine due to kidney failure.
Fluid retention among patients with heart disease happens because the pumping mechanism of the heart is less effective. This causes fluids to build up in the ankles causing swelling. Fluid retention can also accumulate the lungs causing breathing problems.
Furosemide is a very effective water pill that won’t cause dehydration, unlike other diuretics. It’s a strong diuretic medication that works well in getting rid of excess body fluids. At the same time, it lowers the blood pressure and your risk from stroke and heart attack. It works better than hydrochlorothiazide in removing harmful levels of potassium. People with kidney problems can even take this water pill. Furosemide is listed as one of the most effective and safest medicines needed in the health system.
As diuretic, Furosemide removes excess body fluid by causing the kidney to increase the amount of sodium and potassium from being filtered out of the blood and into the urine. As sodium and potassium are being filtered out, water is also drawn alongside. In people with edema, this medicine removes the fluid from the blood vessels. As a result, there is a decrease in the blood pressure within the blood vessels making it easier for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
When and How to Use Furosemide
Your dose and the duration of your treatment vary from other patients. It is vital therefore to follow the instruction given to you by your doctor. You can also read the printed information on the dispensing label of this medicine.
- Treatment of edema: The usual starting dose in treating edema in an adult is one tablet of 20mg to 80mg a day. Your doctor may change your dose depending on how well you respond to the medicine. The starting dose for people age 65 years and older is 20mg a day. The dose for children is 2mg per body weight once a day. The maximum recommended dose is no greater than 6mg per body weight.
- Treatment of hypertension: The typical starting dose for an adult 65 years old and below is 80mg a day to be taken into two divided doses. Again, your doctor may change your dose depending on how well you respond to the medicine. You may need to take Furosemide on a long-term basis if you are taking this in treating high blood pressure.
Take Furosemide exactly as directed to you by your physician. Do not take more or less than what is prescribed. High doses of Furosemide can cause irreversible hearing loss. It is best to take this medicine in the morning as it causes you to urinate more often. Taking it too late in the day may cause sleep disturbances in the evening.
What to know before taking Furosemide
- Furosemide can help control your blood pressure but it won’t cure the underlying conditions.
- People with the following conditions should use Furosemide:
- Kidney failure
- Addison’s disease
- Low blood pressure
- Digitalis poisoning
- Very low levels of potassium in the blood
- Very low sodium levels in the blood
- Unconsciousness due to liver disease affecting the brain
- Allergic to sulfonamide medicines
- People with the following conditions should use Furosemide with caution:
- Liver or kidney problems
- Liver failure but also have kidney failure
- History of gout as this can increase your uric acid level and may trigger a gout attack
- Low amount of sodium
- Elderly people with dementia and are being treated with risperidone
- Inform your doctor if you are taking any other medications including over-the-counter drugs, nutritional supplements, and herbal products.
- Tell your doctor if you have a history of allergy or if you are allergic to Furosemide and sulfonamide drugs.
- Inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant. Do not breastfeed if you are taking this medicine. If you happen to become pregnant while under medication, inform your doctor.
Possible Side Effects of Furosemide
If any of the following side effects are severe or do not go away call your doctor:
- Blurred vision
- Frequent urination
- Low blood volume
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal skin reaction to sunlight
Some side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:
- Loss of hearing
- Ringing in the ear
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Yellowing of the skin
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Blisters or peeling of skin
- Increase blood cholesterol
- Pins and needle sensation
- A decrease in the normal number of blood cells
Getting the Best Result from Furosemide
- Do not use Furosemide if you are unable to urinate.
- Continue taking this medicine even if you feel well. Stopping your medication can cause your blood pressure to become high.
- Furosemide can sometimes increase the blood sugar level of patients with diabetes. Use this medicine with caution. Your doctor may want to check your blood sugar level more often if you are a diabetic patient and you are taking this for your hypertension. Your doctor will also monitor the salt level in your blood through the blood test.
- This medication does not interact directly with alcohol. However, it’s best to avoid alcoholic beverages especially during the first few days of your treatment.
- As a strong diuretic pill, Furosemide can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. It is therefore vital that you take the exact dose as prescribed to you by your physician. In case you’ll experience symptoms like dry mouth, nausea, thirst, weakness, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, cramps, and muscle pain seek medical attention right away.
- Furosemide can make your skin sensitive to sunlight. Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. As much as possible, wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen.