Triamterene is used as a diuretic to help prevent the body from absorbing excess salt but which allows the body to retain its potassium levels. Low levels of potassium can cause tiredness. Triamterene is used on patients with edema who are suffering from congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver and for nephritic syndrome (kidney condition).
Aldosterone hormones regulate the water and salt balance in the body and are produced by the adrenal gland. When the levels of the hormone aldosterone increase in the body causing edema then triamterene helps to cure the condition.
Before you begin to take triamterene your doctor must be told about your allergies to medicines and to triamterene itself. If you are already taking any medicine that contains triamterene or medicines like amiloride and spironolactone then additional triamterene cannot be taken.
As always before you begin any new medication you will have to list out to your doctor and pharmacist the prescribed and non-prescribed drugs you may already be taking including herbal products, vitamins and also any kinds of nutritional supplements. Your doctor is also to told if you have been prescribed angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and medicines for diabetes, blood pressure or any other diuretic and also if you are on potassium supplements. This is important as the doctor will then change the dose of your medications and will also have to monitor side-effects.
Besides telling the doctor about the medications you are already taking he must also know if you have at any time suffered from diabetes, kidney stones or any other kidney problem, heart or liver disease and gout.
Remember that you can not breastfeed if you are on triamterene. In case you are pregnant and require taking triamterene let your doctor decide and if you get pregnant while on the dose, your doctor needs to immediately know.
Your dentist and also your surgeon need to know that you have been prescribed triamterene if you should require dental or medical surgery. Since triamterene can increase skin sensitivity it is best to avoid being in sunlight. If you do need to be in the sun for long periods of time it is advisable to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and other protective clothing.
Triamterene is used as a supplementary medication along with other diuretics to retain potassium but aids expulsion of water and salt in the body through urine production. It controls edema in patients with heart, liver and kidney disease when taken in conjunction with loop diuretics or thiazide. By reducing the volume of fluids in the body and also removing any extra water in the lungs a patient can breathe with greater ease. Swelling of the abdomen and arms or legs is also perceptively reduced with triamterene as extra water is released as urine by this 'water pill' which does not flush out potassium along with the water.
Triamterene could increase the levels of potassium in the body. In case you are using products such as potassium chloride, other potassium or salt supplements consult your doctor about the advisability of using these products along with triamterene. Intakes of fruit like oranges and bananas, which increase potassium content in the body, need your doctor's approval too. In case you are on medication then you must be regular in taking it for it to be beneficial.
Triamterene is a capsule that is taken by mouth, normally once in the morning after breakfast and sometimes twice a day after breakfast and lunch. Avoid taking the drug too late in the day as it might disturb your sleep at night because of needing to make trips to the bathroom. However triamterene should be taken at the same time everyday day. Also the directions on the prescription label need to be followed exactly so ask the pharmacist if you don't understand anything. Also take neither more nor less than what the doctor prescribes.
Do not stop the medication without first consulting the doctor as sometimes conditions become worse when the medicine is stopped suddenly. The dose needs to be reduced gradually. The doctor needs to also be consulted in case your condition does not alter or worsen and you have increased swelling or high blood pressure reading.
Triamterene alters kidney enzymes which help to remove the additional and harmful sodium and fluid in the body through production of urine. Other diuretics, besides reducing salt and water, also cause loss of essential potassium needed by the body.
If you take herbal medicines you need to work with your doctor to decide if taking the herbal remedies along with triamterene is beneficial for you or not. Ginseng, hawthorn, licorice, goldenseal, ma huang, yohimbe and saw palmetto could increase blood pressure. Eleuthero root (Siberian ginseng) and ephedra also need to be shunned if you have hypertension. Calcium and garlic on the other hand lower blood pressure and so caution is required if taken along with triamterene.
Foods that contain rich amounts of potassium like bananas and citrus fruit could cause problems. Alcohol on the other hand along with triamterene may induce drowsiness and lower blood pressure more than desired. Since the medication may cause photosensitivity be careful of exposure to sun.
If a high dose of triamterene is being administered to you over a long period of time and if for some reason the medication needs to be discontinued it is best to stop it gradually. A sudden withdrawal may cause potassium deficiency or could even lead to excessive potassium being removed on the rebound.
The medication should be kept out of reach of children in the same container it came in. The lid should be tightly closed to prevent heat or moisture reaching it and so the bathroom is not a good place to store the medication in. Any medicine that has reached its expiry period should be disposed correctly in consultation with the pharmacist.