High blood pressure can be a difficult condition to treat. It requires a number of lifestyle modifications that may not necessarily work in all cases. Medication is prescribed in such cases and one such drug that may be used is hydrochlorothiazide. In this article, we shall briefly discuss this drug.
What is hydrochlorothiazide?
Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic agent that promotes loss of fluid from the body. It falls under the class of agents known as thiazide diuretics which also includes another drug called bendrofluazide.
What is hydrochlorothiazide used for?
It is utilised in the treatment of clinical conditions such as high blood pressure and fluid retention. Fluid retention is seen in clinical conditions such as congestive cardiac failure, low protein levels in the blood, kidney disease and liver disease and after long-term use of steroids. Hydrochlorothiazide is also utilised in the management of a special clinical condition called diabetes insipidus where patients have a constant urge to drink water.
How is hydrochlorothiazide prescribed?
Hydrochlorothiazide is prescribed as an oral medication and may be available in combination with other drugs. It is rarely used as a single therapy. It is available in different doses which are prescribed depending upon the clinical indication and the need of the patient.
Dosage of hydrochlorothiazide ranges from 12.5 mg to 50 mg. The choice of dose depends upon the underlying clinical condition that the patient is suffering from. For example, in a patient with hypertension, the dose of hydrochlorothiazide may just be 12.5 mg once-a-day. In conditions such as congestive cardiac failure, the dosage may be a little bit higher at 25 mg. Doses can extend up to 100 mg a day in some cases.
Side-effects of hydrochlorothiazide
Hydrochlorothiazide has got a small side-effect profile. Patients who take the drug may experience weakness and fatigue, a rash, low blood pressure, nausea and sometimes abdominal pain. In the rare cases, patients may have a life-threatening allergic response known as anaphylaxis which requires emergency treatment. Some patients have also complained of jaundice.
In patients who have underlying kidney problems, the use of hydrochlorothiazide can make this worse. The loss of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium can result in abnormalities in the way the heart contracts. This is known as an arrhythmia and can cause alterations in patient’s health and blood pressure.
Hydrochlorothiazide is also known to increase uric acid levels in the blood. High levels of uric acid can precipitate a condition known as gout where there is deposition of uric acid crystals within joints such as the ball of the great toe. Hydrochlorothiazide can also increase blood sugar levels in some patients.
Hydrochlorothiazide is a thiazide diuretic that is used in the management of blood pressure and fluid retention. It is available in various doses but must be used under supervision due to its side-effect profile.