Retention of excessive amounts of fluids may lead to a marked increase in salts. Accumulation of extra fluids can harm your heart as well as lungs. Water pills or diuretics are used to eliminate extra build-up of fluids; these pills also help bring down the blood pressure level. When blood pressure is at a normal level, is likely to reduce the risks associated with cardiac conditions caused by damage of blood vessels. A few studies also indicate other likely benefits of water pills include an improvement in your renal health. Though endowed with some unique benefits, diuretics – especially, drugs like chlorthalidone – can trigger a few side effects.
Water pills or diuretics are medications which boost your body to make more urine. They are most widely used for the treatment of an increase in blood pressure levels (hypertension). This outcome is achieved by elimination of excessive fluids from your system. Removal of sodium from your body helps your heart to relax as pumping of blood becomes way too easier. Storage of excessive fluids is called edema. Diuretics or water pills can eliminate risks associated with edema. There are many types of water pills; three most widely used types are loops, potassium-sparing pills and thiazides.
Loops are mainly used in the treatment of heart conditions such as cardiac arrests. Medicines like bumetanide, furosemide, etc. belong to this category. Potassium-sparing water pills are an answer to a chief complaint about diuretics; the near-depletion of potassium salts from your body. These pills eliminate fluids from your body without removing potassium. This category of drugs is used for treating people who already have lower levels of potassium or those who are consuming drugs which may lower the potassium levels. However, the most widely used water pills belong to the thiazides genre. They serve dual benefits of (1) elimination of extra fluids and (2) relaxation of blood vessels. Chlorthalidone is a popular drug belonging to the thiazide genre.
Use of chlorthalidone
Chlorthalidone is a diuretic (water pill) which can help lower higher levels of blood pressure. This effect is achieved by draining extra salts and water from your system. The drug makes you to urinate more to get rid of superfluous fluids. It may also have a few other uses; it is highly recommended to talk to your doctor about its other applications such as correction of imbalances of electrolytes, especially among diabetics. Chlorthalidone is taken orally after food, mostly after your meal in the morning. You need to note that intake of this drug after supper may lead to making more visits to the bathroom all through the night. Also, altering the strength of your dosages may often lead to a few adverse outcomes. Hence, it is a good practice to adhere to dosage specifications, as directed by your treating doctor.
Those living with hypertension are advised to take chlorthalidone continually. As the drug can only control hypertensive spells (and not cure high blood pressure), a dosage plan without breaks is prescribed. Your doctor may also recommend intake of foods with rich levels of potassium – such as raisin, banana, prune, etc. You may also need to take a low-salt diet or foods that are low on sodium.
Side effects of chlorthalidone
The drug is likely to trigger some adverse side effects. Chief among such side effects is the need to urinate often. Other side effects include decrease in appetite levels, indigestion or diarrhea, chronic headaches, loss of hair, muscular cramping or weakness, etc. You may also experience a persistent feeling of thirst. These signs may however show up for a very short span of time. But, if these discomforts last for more than a few days, you need to quickly talk to your treating doctor.
Severe side effects
In some very rare instances, chlorthalidone may cause some very adverse side effects. These include rashes on skin, respiratory problems (such as gasping or wheezing), soreness of throat, increase in body temperature, internal bleeding, etc. It is also possible to notice a drop in potassium levels; the symptoms associated with this drop are abdominal discomforts like nausea, rapid rate of heartbeats, muscular pains, feeling dizzy, weariness as well as weakness. The abovementioned side effects are likely to either worsen or give way to other discomforts; so, upon experiencing any of these adverse side effects, it is recommended to take medical attention at the earliest possible time.
Overdose of chlorthalidone
It is important to take the drug at the levels prescribed by your doctor. Some people assume that by increasing the strength of dosage they can recover from their medical condition. Such assumptions are not true; instead, increasing the strength of chlorthalidone may trigger an overdosed condition. In case of an overdose, you are likely to experience signs like epileptic fits, severe muscular cramps, passing out, etc. If you notice any of these signs, call 911 immediately or get in touch with the emergency helpline numbers of the local poison control center. If you are living in Canada, call Health Canada or get in touch with the poison control unit located in your province.
Always remember that the side effects mentioned here do not represent an entire list of discomforts. It is possible to notice new side effects. In such cases, you need to inform the food and drug administration (FDA) in the US. You may also need to tell your doctor about such new discomforts; your medical team may provide you with safer alternatives or change the strength of chlorthalidone.
Interactions of chlorthalidone with other medications
This drug may interact with other medications. It becomes important to tell your treating physician about the drugs you are currently taking – including treatment plans that you are presently pursuing. In order to ensure added safety, you are advised to make a list of all the drugs you are taking; take needful care to include over the counter (OTC) meds, prescription drugs as well as herbal supplements or dietary aids to this list. Once you have furnished this list, never change or alter the meds in the list.
Among drugs with which chlorthalidone is more likely to interact, the most common ones are diabetic medications, anti-hypertensives, etc. If you are taking blood sugar regulating drugs such as insulin, glipizide, metformin, glyburide, etc. your doctor may alter the strength of chlorthalidone according to the strength of the diabetic medications consumed.
Intake of anti-hypertensives
Consumption of anti-hypertensives (drugs taken to decrease blood pressure levels) may trigger conditions like hypotension or incidence of very low pressure. So, high level of precaution is needed if your medication plan has drugs like angiotensin receptor blocking drugs (ARBs like losartan, valsartan, etc.), calcium channel blocking drugs (such as amlodipine), diuretic drugs – especially, potassium sparing drugs as well as loops, etc. A few examples of potassium sparing drugs are triamterene and spironolactone. Some examples of loops are furosemide and bumetanide.
Your treating physician may also advise you to stay aware of potential side effects caused by the intake of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibiting drugs. A few examples of these ACE inhibiting meds include ramipril, fosinopril, quinapril, etc. Co-administration of these drugs along with chlorthalidone can bring down your blood pressure to a very minimal level. Signs of hypotension include headaches, drowsiness, muscular spasms, respiratory troubles, difficulties faced while swallowing foods, passing out, etc.
Allergies and hypersensitivity associated with the intake of chlorthalidone
Intake of chlorthalidone may trigger a few allergies in some people. So, if you have had any prior allergies or hypersensitivity to this drug, you need to tell your doctor about them. A few of the likely allergic reactions are inflammation of oral parts – especially, lips, throat, tongue, etc., rashes on skin and breathing problems (wheezing or gasping). Also, if you are allergic to sulfa meds, you need to avoid taking them, as their intake can lead to near-fatal or at times, even fatal outcomes.
As drowsiness or dizziness is a common side effect associated with chlorthalidone, you need to refrain from taking intoxicants such as alcohol, cannabis / marijuana, etc. Upon taking such intoxicants while on a medication plan, you may witness extreme spells of dizziness or drowsiness. If you are habituated to taking alcohol on a daily basis, your physician may advise you to either reduce or completely stop taking it.
Prior medical conditions and possible risks of consuming chlorthalidone
People who are living with certain medical conditions are not recommended to take chlorthalidone. This precaution is more pertinent to those living with conditions such as hepatic disorders (intake of chlorthalidone can alter the levels of salts and fluids; it can also push you into a coma), lupus (this drug is likely to aggravate lupus), decreased levels of potassium (chlorthalidone may pull down the salt levels to a new low, putting your system to graver risks), respiratory conditions like bronchitis, gout (chlorthalidone can also trigger spells of gout; so intake of it by people who already have gout can do more harm to them) and renal dysfunction (chlorthalidone can further worsen the functioning of renal system).
Can pregnant women or breastfeeding women take chlorthalidone?
Your doctor needs to know if you are planning to become pregnant or already pregnant prior to starting the medication plan. In case of pregnancy, chlorthalidone is classified as a category-B medication; this means, there are no tangible evidence to prove the harmful effects of this drug on pregnant women. However, it is very important to tell your physician about your pregnancy. In most cases, this drug is prescribed only if it is direly needed, and its benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
Women who are breastfeeding must be more careful as this drug can pass through mothers’ milk to infants. Once such milk is fed to your baby, it can cause a host of serious reactions and allergies including persistent crying, feeding problems, respiratory troubles, etc.
In sum, chlorthalidone is a water pill (diuretic) which can help reduce blood pressure. The most common side effects include frequent urination, changes in appetite, diarrhea, headache, muscular weakness and cramps. People who took this drug have also noticed a constant feeling of thirstiness. These signs however are short term occurrences; but, if these adverse side effects last for more than a week, it is strongly recommended to consult your treating physician.