Eager to shed off some extra weight to fit into that summer bikini you've been eyeing? Or is it that time of the month and you feel too bloated, making you feel unsettled? How about you pop those OTC water pills your friends are raving about! Although everyone is talking about them, these pills don't come without risks. Water pills, also known as diuretics, if not taken properly, can be quite dangerous. They can cause irreversible damage to your body; thus, you need a doctor's prescription to manage your intake.
What are water pills?
Contrary to popular belief, water pills have nothing to do with the water in their composition but their prescribed function. They are used to treat high blood pressure. Diuretics do this by reducing the amount of fluid in the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure. Also, they are used to treat patients with congestive heart failure. They do this by helping your kidneys eliminate the extra water and salt in your body through pee. As you expel the excess fluid in your blood vessels, it makes your heart pump easier.
How will diuretics affect my body?
One of the most common effects diuretics will have on your body is frequent urination. You may need to be fully prepared for this as it could significantly affect your daily routine. Besides distracting your daytime routine, it can affect your sleep cycle if you have to wake up to visit the bathroom to pee. Doctors advise you to take a water pill six hours before your sleep time.
Additionally, Harvard Health Publishing states that diuretic medication also alters the potassium levels in your body. They can either shoot up or drastically lower the potassium in your system. Potassium is vital in controlling your blood sugar levels, so you essentially need it at an optimal level. Other side effects you need to know that may be caused when you take a water pill are lightheadedness from being dehydrated, bowel changes, fatigue, and in men, they may occasionally experience erectile dysfunction.
Water pills and weight loss
A widely held belief is that water pills help reduce weight loss. This is far from the truth and could, in fact, lead to weight gain due to water retention when overused. Water pills only help lose water weight, which means they do not deal with your body's fat or muscle. Some athletes are also known to use diuretics for weight loss. The loss of weight in this fashion is temporary due to dehydration, which could lead to other health issues. Jill Castle, a registered dietitian/nutritionist at The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, "While dehydration will result in weight loss, it also may negatively affect athletic performance. Fluid losses exceeding two percent body weight can interfere with cognitive function and aerobic exercise performance."
Prescribed vs. OTC water pills
Before you hurry to your drugstore to pick an OTC diuretic, it is important to know that while they may offer relief for your stomach bloat during that time of the month, it is not recommended. OTC water pills are not entirely FDA-regulated and could cause additional health complications.
Now that you have some background information about water pills, ensure you follow the prescribed dosage by your pharmacist to reduce risks.
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