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Pharmacy and Medications

Potassium and diuretics

03/02/2006

Question:

If I take lasix for water retention should I take it with a potassium sparing diuretic? How should I take lasix?

Answer:

Another name for Lasix® is furosemide. Furosemide is a diuretic or a water pill that is used to help patients remove extra fluid from their bodies. Because of the way furosemide works, it can increase potassium excretion leading to hypokalemia (Hy-po-kay-leem-ya). Symptoms of hypokalemia may include muscle weakness, and muscle cramps, but more dangerous symptoms may also occur.

Several treatment options exist for patients who develop low potassium while using furosemide or other diuretics. These include adding a potassium sparing diuretic like amiloride or triamterine, increasing consumption of potassium containing foods (fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources) or taking a potassium supplements. The need for extra potassium is determined by potassium levels in the blood and the presence of symptoms of hypokalemia. Your doctor can help you determine whether you need potassium supplements or a potassium sparing diuretic. Generally patients taking potassium sparing diuretics do not need to take additional potassium.

Take your furosemide just the way your doctor prescribed it. If you have additional questions or concerns about this issue talk to your doctor or a pharmacist who knows you.

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Response by:

Robert James Goetz, PharmD, DABAT
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati