Chlorothiazide : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Chlorothiazide is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. Chlorothiazide is used to treat edema (fluid retention; excess fluid retained in body tissues) caused by various medical problems, including heart, kidney, and liver disease, and to treat edema caused by the use of certain medications. including estrogens and corticosteroids. Chlorothiazide is in a class of medications called diuretics (“water pills”). It works by causing the kidneys to remove unnecessary water and salt from the body into the urine.
High blood pressure is a common condition and, if left untreated, it can damage the brain, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of the body. Damage to these organs can cause heart disease, a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, loss of vision, and other problems. In addition to taking medications, making lifestyle changes will also help control your blood pressure. These changes include eating a diet low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes most days, not smoking, and consuming alcohol in moderation.
How should this medicine be used?
Chlorothiazide comes as a tablet and a suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken once or twice a day. When used to treat hypertension, take chlorothiazide at around the same time every day. When used to treat edema, chlorothiazide can be taken daily or only on certain days of the week. Take this medicine with meals or a snack. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take chlorothiazide exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Chlorothiazide controls high blood pressure and edema, but it does not cure these conditions. Keep taking chlorothiazide even if you feel fine. Do not stop taking chlorothiazide without consulting your doctor.
Other uses for this medicine
Chlorothiazide can also be used to treat patients with diabetes insipidus and certain electrolyte disturbances and to prevent kidney stones in patients with high levels of calcium in the blood. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
This drug is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking chlorothiazide,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to chlorothiazide, sulfonamide antibiotics, penicillin, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in chlorothiazide tablets or suspension. Ask your pharmacist or check patient information for a list of ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: barbiturates such as phenobarbital and secobarbital (Seconal); corticosteroids such as betamethasone (Celestone), budesonide (Entocort), cortisone (Cortone), dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexpak, Dexasone, others), fludrocortisone (Floriner), hydrocortisone (Cortef, Hydrocortone), methylprednisolone, prednisolone (other Medrol) (Deltasone, Meticorten, Sterapred, others) and triamcinolone (Aristocort, Azmacort); corticotropin (ACTH H.P., Acthar Gel); digoxin (Lanoxin); insulin and oral medications for diabetes, lithium (Lithobid), medications for high blood pressure or pain; and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, others). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects.
- If you are taking cholestyramine or colestipol, take them 1 hour before or 4 hours after taking chlorothiazide.
- Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease. Your doctor may tell you not to take chlorothiazide.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, a chronic inflammatory condition), gout, or liver or parathyroid disease.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking chlorothiazide, call your doctor immediately.
- Plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Chlorothiazide can make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
- You should know that chlorothiazide can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from lying down. This is more common when you start taking chlorothiazide. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up. Alcohol can add to these side effects.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
If your doctor prescribes a low-salt or low-sodium diet, or if you want to eat or drink larger amounts of potassium-rich foods (for example, bananas, prunes, raisins, and orange juice) in your diet, follow these instructions carefully.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- frequent urination
- muscle spasms
- blurred vision
- loss of appetite
- hair loss
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical treatment:
- dry mouth; thirst; nausea; vomiting; weakness, tiredness; drowsiness; restlessness; confusion; muscle weakness, pain, or cramps; fast heartbeat and other signs of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
- blisters or peeling skin
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not allow the oral suspension to freeze.
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly, and blood tests should be done occasionally.
Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking chlorothiazide.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you every time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
Brand names of combination products
- Aldochlor® (containing Chlorothiazide, Methyldopa)
- Diupres® (containing Chlorothiazide, Reserpine)
Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.