What should seniors know before taking furosemide?

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Furosemide is a diuretic or also known as a "water pill". Increased urination and urinary frequency are common effects. People need to plan their daily activities to manage the diuretic effects. Furosemide also promotes the elimination of potassium. Decreased serum potassium can contribute to generalized weakness. It is important to continue to see your medical provider to check blood work to determine the beneficial drug effects and if potassium supplements are needed.

Seniors who take the diuretic furosemide (Lasix) should know that their kidneys need to be functioning well in order for the drug to work. In general, older patients have not reacted differently to furosemide than younger ones. However, many people older than 65 have impaired kidney function. If the kidneys don't excrete the drug efficiently, it can build up and cause a toxic reaction. Doctors often prescribe a low dose of furosemide to start and monitor kidney function during treatment.

Older people should also know how to take the drug, what dietary changes to make, if any, and potential side effects. Furosemide works by stimulating the body to produce more urine, so older patients should be prepared to need to urinate more frequently, starting about an hour after taking the drug and for about six hours afterward.