What Is a Diuretic and What Is it For?

January 18, 2020
A diuretic is a substance generally used for treating diseases such as hypertension and kidney problems. Learn more about it in this article.

A diuretic is a substance that helps remove water and electrolytes from the body through urine. In fact, many people refer to them as “water pills.” This is because they act by causing the kidneys to release more sodium and water through urine.

Thus, a diuretic reduces the amount of fluid that circulates through our blood vessels. So, it reduces the pressure that the blood itself exerts on the vessel walls.

Even though many people don’t know it, a diuretic isn’t necessarily a medication. In fact, numerous types of fresh food have the same effect. Also, they’re very useful for treating many other diseases. For example, you can treat hypertension and heart failure with a diuretic.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about them and what are their uses.

How does a diuretic work?

As we mentioned above, a diuretic generally acts by inducing the kidneys to eliminate more electrolytes and more water through the urine. By increasing the flow of urine, it’s possible to reduce the total blood volume that circulates through the vessels.

An illustration of kidneys.

It’s also important to know there are various types of diuretics. The industry classifies them according to their mechanism of action. They do this to allow a much more effective use in specific medical treatments.

Thus, a diuretic can be:

  • A thiazide diuretic that keeps the kidneys from reabsorbing sodium and chlorine. Thus, it reduces them in the blood and fluids also. Also, these are the only types of diuretics that allow blood vessels to dilate. Therefore, they’re mainly used in the treatment of hypertension.
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics act pretty much the same as the previous ones. However, these keep potassium from leaving the body through the urine. This is important for certain diseases caused by potassium imbalances.
  • The mechanism of loop diuretics is similar to thiazides. In fact, they’re usually combined. They’re helpful in acute treatments due to their high effectiveness in urine production.

How to use a diuretic?

A diuretic has many purposes. First, some people use them as medication for treating and improve certain diseases.

These include heart failure, for example. This condition happens when the heart cannot pump oxygenated blood efficiently to all parts of the body. As time goes by, it accumulates in certain areas. Thus, the fluid has to go into the interstitial compartment in the legs or lungs. Therefore, by using a diuretic, you reduce this amount of fluid and the heart can work properly again.

Also, people use diuretics in many kidney diseases, liver diseases, and for treating edema. Similarly, it’s important to know that they’re one of the pillars of the treatment of hypertension.

However, some people think that diuretics are useful for weight loss. Unfortunately, this is false, as these substances can help reduce accumulated fluid, but they don’t burn fat. It’s true that you’ll look less bloated and perceive yourself as thinner if you take them. However, keep in mind you’re mainly losing liquids. Also, know that they can put you at risk of dehydration. So, don’t take them without consulting a doctor first.

You may be interested: 15 Possible Natural Diuretics

Types of food with diuretic properties

A bowl full of sliced cucumbers.

You shouldn’t take medication without medical supervision, but you can add natural diuretics to your diet. They’ll help you eliminate excess fluid and improve your kidney health as long as you make them a part of a balanced diet.

Some of the types of food you can use for this purpose are celery, beets, pears, and cucumbers. Of course, watermelon and asparagus can also fulfill this function.

If you’re consuming diuretics, you must drink plenty of fluids to remain properly hydrated.

You might like: 7 Natural Diuretics That You Should Include in Your Diet

In conclusion

A diuretic is a substance that helps remove more water and electrolytes through the urine. They can help reduce the total blood volume, which is highly beneficial to treat some pathologies, such as hypertension.

However, you must be careful with them, as they can harm you if you take them in excess. Thus, don’t ever take them in medication form without medical supervision.

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  • Diuréticos | Texas Heart Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2019, from https://www.texasheart.org/heart-health/heart-information-center/topics/diureticos/
  • Utilidad de los diuréticos en la insuficiencia renal aguda – Artículos – IntraMed. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2019, from https://www.intramed.net/contenidover.asp?contenidoid=22501