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Drugs that make you pee a lot: Diuretics and more

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DiureticsDiuretic side effectsOther medicationsSummary
Some drugs, like diuretics, can make you pee more than usual. Diuretics are a class of drugs designed to rid the body of excess fluid, making you urinate more.
Medically reviewed by Alyssa Walton, PharmD
Updated on

Sometimes called water pills, diuretics are a class of drugs that make you pee a lot. These medications help the body get rid of excess fluid through urination. 

There are three main types of diuretics, all of which assist the kidneys by putting extra salt and water into your urine. This helps regulate the amount of fluids in other parts of the body.

This process can help with health conditions like edema, where too much fluid gets trapped in the body’s tissues. While most people tolerate diuretics well, these medications are known to cause side effects.

Other drugs that make you pee a lot may include other blood pressure medications or some antidepressants.


A hand flushing a toilet, representing drugs that make you pee a lot.
Antonio Hugo Photo/Getty Images

The three main types of diuretics are thiazide, loop, and potassium-sparing diuretics. These drugs are used to release fluid as urine, an action that can help treat various conditions, including high blood pressure (hypertension) and edema caused by congestive heart failure.

Thiazide diuretics

Thiazide diuretics help treat hypertension by lowering the amount of fluid in your blood vessels. Doctors usually prescribe these medications as first-line treatment for hypertension. Thiazide diuretics are considered effective among the three diuretics, and they’re known for having fewer side effects

Examples include chlorthalidone (Thalitone), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), metolazone, and indapamide.

These medications work relatively quickly. Hydrochlorothiazide, for example, starts to work within 2 hours of taking it, and it may continue to work for up to 12 hours.

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Loop diuretics

Loop diuretics help treat fluid overload conditions such as heart failure, cirrhosis, hypertension, and edema. They work by making the kidneys pass more fluid, which means less remains in the bloodstream. 

Any fluid in the tissues of the lung or other parts of the body is then drawn back into the bloodstream. Less fluid in the tissues eases symptoms of edema and other conditions.

The cells of the kidneys targeted by this treatment are in a structure called the loop of Henle, hence the name.

These drugs include torsemide (Soaanz), furosemide (Lasix), and bumetanide (Bumex).

Loop diuretics also get to work quickly, often within about 30–60 minutes.

Potassium-sparing diuretics

Some types of diuretics cause you to lose potassium, which can lead to health complications like an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). If this is a risk for you because you already have low potassium levels, your doctor may prescribe potassium-sparing diuretics. 

As the name suggests, potassium-sparing diuretics help you reduce fluid buildup without lowering the amount of this important nutrient in your body. Doctors may prescribe this medication in combination with other blood pressure medications to boost its effectiveness.

Potassium-sparing diuretics include amiloride, triamterene (Dyrenium), spironolactone (Aldactone), and eplerenone (Inspra).

Potassium-sparing diuretics take a little longer to get to work than other forms of diuretics. Spironolactone, for example, starts working within about 2–4 hours.

Diuretic side effects

Though diuretics are effective, they do come with some side effects. Depending on the type of diuretic, side effects can include:

Serious but rare side effects can include allergic reactions or kidney failure

Your risk will also depend on other medical conditions you may have. For example, loop and thiazide diuretics should not be used in people with gout. Some people with diabetes might also consider avoiding certain diuretics.

Other drugs that can make you pee

While the previously mentioned diuretics are designed to make you pee more often, some medications have this as a possible side effect.

Some 2022 research finds that other blood pressure drugs can lead to an overactive bladder, meaning you’ll urinate more frequently. These drugs include:

Some antidepressants may also lead to overactive bladder, as per a 2017 research involving 202 males who used antidepressants to treat various conditions. These antidepressants include:


Diuretics help your body get rid of excess salt and fluid, increasing urination. Doctors commonly prescribe them to help treat conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, and kidney problems. Mild side effects of diuretics may include cramps, headache, and dizziness.

More serious side effects are considered rare. Diuretics can interact with other medications and affect other conditions. So it’s important to discuss your full medical history with your doctor prior to taking them.

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