Known as a silent killer for the long-term implications, hypertension is known to affect almost half the adult population in the US. The condition has the dubious distinction of patients being unaware of the condition, till it has progressed or caused some form of health complication, such as heart failure, attack or stroke. Various medications are in use to help manage the condition, and this include Lasix, a loop diuretic that is prescribed for various conditions. Subsequent sections will offer in-depth details of the medication, including side effects of Lasix to help patients and families be fully aware of undesirable outcomes. This will help to mitigate and prevent adverse effects among patients.

Overview of Lasix

Also known as furosemide, Lasix is used for treating hypertension and edema in patients with congestive heart failure. It is also prescribed for patients diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and renal disease. The medication works on the kidneys, and the sequence of actions results in greater water excretion from the body.  This is turn helps to reduce or manage hypertension and other actions that are responsible for the conditions. Belonging to the category of anthranilic acid derivatives, the medication prevents electrolyte reabsorption and this helps in increased water loss from the body.

Distinct characteristics of the drug include a fast onset of action, which means that the mechanism of action begins working quickly. It is also known to have a short duration of action, which essentially means that the medication is safe for both adults and pediatric cases. Available as oral formulation, Furosemide with a proven higher diuretic potential is also administered intravenously and intramuscularly in hospital settings.

Furosemide – mechanism of action

The drug works by inhibiting the reabsorption of sodium and chloride, and by preventing the movement of sodium ions. As a result of this inhibition, the body flushes out more water, and ions. This includes sodium, calcium, potassium chloride, magnesium and hydrogen ions. All of this combines to give the medication the desired outcomes. Additionally, the drug also possesses vasodilatory properties, and this is known to help in treating pulmonary edema.

Warnings associated with the drug

Without exception, all medications come with the possibility of adverse or unwanted outcomes. Furosemide comes with a black box warning from the FDA, which is a serious warning or alert issued for doctors and patients regarding the potential effects. As a potent diuretic, the level of urine excreted by the body is high and this can result in possible electrolyte imbalance and low levels of water in the body, if the drug is taken in excessive levels. It is necessary for patients and healthcare professionals to constantly monitor fluid levels and prevent possible dehydration among patients.

Other warnings associated with the medication include the possibility of low blood pressure levels, with clear indicative symptoms such as dizzy feelings, apart from unsteadiness when rising from a resting position. Additionally, the drug can also cause a reduction in potassium levels, and this may have an impact on the nerves, the organs and muscles of the body. There are clear indicative symptoms such as abnormal fatigue, overall weakness in the muscles, and possible vomiting sensations. The medication is also known to trigger a reduction in thyroid levels and individuals experiencing symptoms consistent with low thyroid levels are to seek assistance. For instance, symptoms such as fatigue, sudden increase in weight, drying hair and skin are possible indications of low thyroid levels.

Commonly reported side effects of Lasix

As mentioned above, the medication comes with the possibility of side effects. These effects may differ from person to person, and depends on various factors, such as the age of the individual, the gender, the condition being treated, the strength of the medication, the frequency of dosage, other existing conditions and medications in use. Some may experience strong effects of the drug, while some may experience mild or moderate effects. A section of users may not experience any kind of side effects whatsoever. The following compilation of possible undesirable effects of the drug is not complete or exhaustive in nature. It is a broad reference of the possible effects that may be experienced by individuals.

Effects that are not of concern and may resolve naturally

Certain effects are more frequently occurring nature and are not of concern. These effects are known to resolve naturally, and include possible feelings of nausea, vomiting sensations, and cramps in the stomach. The patient may experience bouts of diarrhea, and on a contrasting note, the patient may also end up with constipation. Other effects reported frequently include vertigo, and dizzy feelings, apart from headaches. There could be an impact on vision, with the patient experiencing blurred vision. The outbreak of rashes is also a possibility and this needs to be carefully checked or monitored to prevent it from aggravating to a more serious form of allergic reaction.

Effects that are serious in nature and require medical intervention

Apart from the above effects, there is also the possibility of individuals experiencing effects that are serious in nature. These effects require medical intervention, and patients/caregivers are advised to look out for and identify symptoms that are indicative of serious undesirable effects. For instance, heavier dosage of the drug may result in excessive loss of water and electrolytes, and there are clear tell-tale symptoms that indicate this condition. This includes abnormal thirst, without any involvement of strenuous activity or change in temperature. The individual may feel that the mouth is always dry and parched. Overall weakness, feelings of drowsiness and lesser urination are also possible indications of loss of water and electrolytes.

The individual may feel restless, in addition to experiencing cramps or pain in the muscle. Heartbeat rate may be faster than usual heart beat rate. The patient may experience vomiting sensations, and also have feelings of nausea. As mentioned in the previous section, there is also the possibility of low thyroid levels as a result of the medication. Other effects that are classified as serious or of concern include the possibility of pancreatitis, with clear symptoms such as pain in the pancreas when either eating or drinking. The patient may experience severe feelings of nausea or strong sensations of vomiting, apart from fever.

There is also the possibility of liver damage as a result of the medication, and symptoms that point to this condition include a distinct yellowish appearance on the skin. The whites of the eyes may also turn yellow or slightly yellow. Patients may experience difficulty in hearing, while some are known to experience a distinct ringing sensation in the ears. Effects of the serious category include blistering of the skin, or peeling of the skin, and this needs to be managed swiftly. There is also the possibility of other allergic reactions from the medication, and patients are advised to inform doctors of any history of allergies.

Drug interactions of Furosemide

In addition to the side effects of Lasix there is also the possibility of drug interactions. This is unlike the undesirable effects and is common to users who are on the same combination of medications. Drug interactions between two medications, arising out of the conflicting mechanism of action or properties are of three types. One, the efficacy of either of the medications may be reduced significantly. Two, the outcomes of either of the medications may be more than desired levels. Three, there is the possibility of stronger undesirable effects from either or both medications. It is therefore important for users to clearly inform the treating specialists of medications in use. This includes prescription drugs, OTC medications, herbal supplements, and all other natural remedies.

The medication is known to interact with antibiotics, and can trigger loss of hearing or have an impact on hearing ability, when taken together. Furosemide is also known to interact with antiseizure medications, and the outcome of this combination is a decrease in the efficacy of the diuretic. Other interactions include undesirable outcomes when taken along with cancer drugs, where the kidneys may be exposed to complications. There is also the possibility of patients ending up with hearing loss or hearing difficulty as a result of this combination.

Unsuitability of medication for certain categories

Certain categories of users are considered as unsuitable to use the medication, or are considered as high-risk category.  Individuals of these categories are to either look at other medications or use the drugs only under close medical supervision, with explicit advice of the treating specialist. For instance, individuals with a history of allergies to certain categories of drugs, known as sulfa drugs may end up with allergic reactions. Symptoms that are indicative of this reaction include difficulty in breathing, or trouble in swallowing. There could be a swelling in the throat or the tongue, and it may be necessary to seek medical intervention in such instances.

Furosemide is known to interact when taken along with alcohol. Individuals are advised to avoid combining the two together, as alcohol may end up aggravating or triggering undesirable effects of the drug. This includes the possibility of a sudden dip in blood pressure levels, and dizzy feelings. Patients with renal complications are likely to experience stronger effects of the drug. This is because of the inability of the kidneys of patients to properly process the drug and eliminate it from the body. The medication is known to have a quick onset of action and short duration of action, which makes it safe. However, when it remains in the body for a longer time, it may result in possible adverse consequences, such as drop in blood pressure levels.

Patients diagnosed with liver conditions are to be administered the drug only in a hospital setting. This is necessary to ensure that the electrolyte levels are monitored, in addition to the possible impact on the brain. The results of the reduced electrolyte levels are known to cause such an impact among patients with liver conditions, and it is necessary to ensure that the patient receives appropriate, swift intervention. Diabetics are also to seek the advice of doctors before taking this drug, as Furosemide is known to make it difficult for blood sugar levels to be controlled effectively. Finally, the drug is not suitable for patients diagnosed with bladder disorders, and require explicit advice regarding use.

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