Health and MedicineMedicinesWhat is a diuretic, what is it for and contraindications?

What is a diuretic, what is it for and contraindications?

Diuretics are useful substances against excessive fluid accumulation. Find out what they are, their main functions and when it is not appropriate to take them.

There are different conditions and disorders that can cause our body to retain more fluid than normal. It is what is commonly and popularly known as fluid retention, which is medically called edema, consisting of the excessive accumulation of fluids in different tissues.

We must bear in mind that water is the fundamental and most abundant element in our body. We find it in the intracellular fluid (inside the cells), and also in the extracellular fluid (the one outside the cells). In turn, we must mention the presence of interstitial fluid, which is the one that bathes the cells and plasma, which is the fluid that is part of the blood.

Thus, the body has a system capable of regulating both the filtration and reabsorption of water not only between these interstitial spaces, but also between the different blood vessels and tissues. It is a system based on two types of pressure. On the one hand we find the osmotic pressure, which is what tends to drive the more concentrated water towards the less concentrated. And hydrostatic pressure, which is that generated by the cardiovascular system itself.

In this way, when this system tends to fail and the water begins to infiltrate the different tissues of the body, it remains accumulated, producing what is known on this occasion as fluid retention.

Its causes are actually very varied, and we can find both pathological and non-pathological causes. For example, heat can dilate the blood vessels and favor the outflow of water from them, preventing the tissues from being able to absorb it. Standing or sitting for a long time can influence the accumulation of fluids, as well as maintaining a diet rich in salt and low in protein.

We can also find other causes that can be considered pathological. The most common are hormonal imbalances, or certain diseases such as venous, cardiac or renal insufficiency. In turn, the existence of poor blood circulation also influences.

At the moment we find diuretics, which are substances that are commonly used in the  medical treatment of fluid retention or accumulation, since, as we will see below, they help our body to be more effective when it comes to eliminating water. And sodium.

What are diuretics?

Explained more or less simply and especially quickly, we can define diuretics as any substance capable of increasing the secretion and excretion of urine. That is, they facilitate or increase the elimination of urine.

They are especially useful in the medical treatment of the accumulation of fluids in the body, since they help reduce the volume of water by increasing the production of urine by the kidneys, to later eliminate it outside the body.

Not only can we find diuretic drugs -or diuretic drugs-, which are those expressly prescribed by the doctor for the treatment of fluid retention. Did you know that there are also foods with diuretic capacity that help increase the body’s diuresis? This is the case, for example, of certain vegetables, fruits and plants, which increase the action of the kidneys to produce a greater amount of urine.

The same thing happens with certain drinks, as could be the case of certain infusions and teas made with diuretic medicinal plants, as well as common drinks, such as mate or coffee.

What are diuretics used for?

As we have seen, diuretics help increase the body’s diuresis, preventing, avoiding or reducing the excessive accumulation of fluids in the tissues. But they are not only medically prescribed for the treatment of fluid retention.

In short, they are also used for conditions and disorders related to the appearance of edema, or that can influence its appearance.

For example, they are used medically in the treatment of high blood pressure, certain diseases or condition of both the kidneys and the liver, heart failure, diabetes insipid us, or the prevention of kidney stones.

Main contraindications of diuretics: when are they not appropriate to take?

Although diuretics are useful in treating fluid retention, there are some contraindications  that make their consumption not recommended at certain times or under certain conditions. The most important are the following:

  • Hypotension or decompensating of blood pressure.
  • Dehydration and loss of electrolytes.
  • Alcohol consumption. The consumption of diuretic drugs with alcoholic beverages is not recommended, since alcohol already causes an excessive elimination of liquids in the body.

Therefore, whenever a drug with diuretic action is going to be consumed, it is essential to ask our doctor.


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