What should I know if I take Benicar HCT?

If you're taking the blood pressure medication Benicar HCT (olmesartan and hydrochlorothiazide), you should know that it contains two active ingredients. Olmesartan is in a class of drugs called angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB), which lower blood pressure by interfering with chemicals that constrict blood vessels.

Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic; it lowers blood pressure by helping remove excess water and salt from your body. Doctors typically don't prescribe Benicar HCT unless a diuretic or ARB alone isn't enough to control your blood pressure.

You shouldn't take Benicar HCT if you're allergic to any of its ingredients or to sulfa-containing drugs, or if you have a condition that prevents you from urinating (or limits your urination dramatically), such as kidney failure or kidney stones. You also shouldn't take Benicar HCT if you're pregnant, because it can seriously harm or even kill a developing fetus. If you become pregnant, stop taking Benicar HCT and let your doctor know right away.

You should know that Benicar HCT interacts with a number of other drugs. Before you take it, tell your doctor about all your medications (prescription or over-the-counter), as well as any dietary or herbal supplements you take. You should also give your doctor a complete medical history, because some conditions can raise the risk of side effects from Benicar HCT.
You should know that Benicar HCT may make you drowsy at first. (Alcohol can make this worse.) Don't drive or operate machinery until you know how Benicar HCT affects you. It's also common to feel lightheaded or dizzy during the first few days. Drinking plenty of fluids can help. Be aware that it's common to experience more frequent urination during the first few weeks.

Other potential side effects include the following (let your doctor know if they are severe or long-lasting):
  • muscle weakness
  • cramps
  • thirst
  • stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • headache
  • hair loss
If you experience any of the following serious symptoms, which are rare, call your doctor immediately:
  • sore throat with fever
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • severe skin rash with peeling skin
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • swelling of the face, throat or tongue
  • hoarseness
  • sudden vision problems or eye pain
Be aware that Benicar HCT may make your skin more sensitive to the sun. You should avoid unnecessary exposure to sunlight and wear protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.