Are water pills safe for long-term use?

If you have read some of my other posts, you may have discovered that I do not recommend diuretics (water pills) for most people with water retention. Some examples of water tablets are moduretic and lasix.

There are some cases where water pills are necessary, but only in cases of quite serious disease, which your doctor will be able to identify. Most people with water retention do not have a disease, they have a metabolic imbalance caused by eating the wrong foods or not eating enough of the right foods. In these cases water pills are absolutely the worst possible treatment and can serioiusly aggravate your water retention.

How does that happen?

Water pills don’t cure water retention, they just force your kidneys to extract more water from your blood. However you only have too much water in your blood when you have a serious disease. If you have a metabolic imbalance, the water retention is not in your blood but in your tissues. Water pills cannot extract water from your tissues. Your tissues will give up a little bit of water if your blood gets dehydrated due to the water pills, but they will take it back again the minute the dehydration stops.

Dehydration is harmful

Can you have water retention and dehydration at the same time? Yes. The moment you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Women need to drink at least two litres of water a day to avoid dehydration and men need even more.  These are official figures published by governments.

Harmful effects of water pills

All water pills, even natural ones, can cause dehydration. They also cause potassium deficiency.  Potassium is the mineral in your body which helps to balance sodium or salt. If you lose potassium it is harder for your body to control sodium, which encourages water retention.  Potassium is also needed to make energy in your body, so if you don’t have enough you can start to feel tired and even your heart, nerves and muscles can be weakened. Other effects of a potassium deficiency include bloating, dizziness, drowsiness, intense thirst, and ‘pins and needles’ sensations.

My hands stomach and feet have been swollen and I feel very stiff all day every day for about 6 years. I was bulimic for about 9 years off and on and get severe heartburn and can not make it through the day unless I have my pills. I wake up every day feeling so stiff that Its like a workout just getting out of bed it hurts to even try and straighten out my fingers.

My hands stomach and feet have been swollen and I feel very stiff all day every day for about 6 years. I was bulimic for about 9 years off and on and get severe heartburn and can not make it through the day unless I have my pills. I wake up every day feeling so stiff that Its like a workout just getting out of bed it hurts to even try and straighten out my fingers.

Taking laxatives or ‘colon cleanse’ products can also make your body lose large amounts of potassium.

Instead of taking water pills, find out what’s causing your water retention

Eating too much salty or sugary food and not enough fresh fruit and vegetables is one likely cause of water retention. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a good source of potassium.

But if you are already eating a good diet you might need to do a test on yourself to find out whether anything you are eating or not eating is causing your water retention.  The procedure for this test is described in my book the Waterfall Diet. It is also very informative in general about water retention, and has helped many people overcome this problem permanently.

When coming off water pills (diuretics) do so very slowly, cutting the dose by a little bit every day to help your body get used to the changes.

About Linda Lazarides

Linda Lazarides is an international expert on water retention, author of eight books and founder of the British Association for Nutritional Therapy. She has successfully treated hundreds of people referred to her by doctors. See success stories or download E-guide.


  1. i have just started taking dandelion herbal capsules for water retention are they safe

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Like all diuretics, dandelion herbal capsules will dehydrate you and worsen your water retention in the long term if you have the idiopathic oedema type of water retention. This is the most common type unless your doctor has diagnosed heart, liver or kidney dysfunction.

  2. Mrs Susan Keenan says:

    Hi i recently had a breast uplift and implants since then i have water retention all over my body my doctor has done tests for kidneys thyroid and other things that would cause water retention but all have came back clear she has now given me water tablets which shes not to happy about but cant find thecause of my water retention have you anyadvice ? when i wake up in the morning my hole body is normal no water at all but after ive been on my feet for half an hour im full of water ! when i had my operation the theatre was sub zero temp as it was in spain and surgeon said its to keep infection out could any of this of caused my water retention ? many thanks Sue.

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      You are right that water tablets are not the solution and in the long term could make matters worse. If you have only had this since the implants then it seems more than possible that the implants are to blame. Before you take the drastic step of removing them, the books I have published can help you understand water retention more thoroughly and also give some dietary strategies that many people have found helpful.

  3. I have been suffering from water retention for many years. For 5 years I was on the water pill which eventually caused gout and I had to stop that medication. I have been off it for about 2 years now. I am on Paxil, Crestor and Ramipril. Please let me know if these medications are aiding with the water retention. Your help is needed as I do not want to take medication, instead get rid of this retention naturally.

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Rani, with the possible exception of water retention due to heart failure (this has to be diagnosed by a doctor) a pill is never the answer. A condition like water retention needs to be properly understood before you can help yourself. That is what I try to do with my books – help people understand how to help themselves.

  4. Sylvia Snyder says:

    I had breast cancer in 2005 some lumph nodes removed and since then i have water retension in the wast area and thighs

  5. sylvia snyder says:

    i walk 5 to 7 miles on thread mill 5days a week

  6. ifor evans says:

    can a liver disfunction cause water retention

  7. Stephanie says:

    A weight loss doctor gave me water pills, amour thyroid and an appetite suppressant. After six weeks I became dehydrated to the point I had to go to the ER by ambulance. They prescribed potassium pills as that was low as well. Two days later I have horrible water retention. Will it work itself out? Is there something I need to do in addition to the potassium? I’m not taking the weight loss pills anymore.

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Stephanie, thank heaven you have stopped the water pills. When the body is dehydrated it learns to hold on to water in its tissues. I can’t say if or when it will re-balance itself but the kind of diet that most of us eat really doesn’t help. If you don’t know how to eat healthy on your own, you may want to get some books to help you.

  8. Hi, I have been on moduretic 5mg daily. I think the doctor prescribed them for me when I had pins and needles in my both hands through the night. I used to take 2 a day but in the last 5 months I have just stopped taking my lunch time one. I have been on these tablets for at least 10 years. Since I have stopped the lunchtime one I have put on at least 4 kilos. I would like to stop it completely but am scared I will put on so much more weight.

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Terry this is unfortunately the story with everyone who takes diuretics long term. They should never be prescribed for idiopathic oedema (water retention of unknown cause). Reading the Waterfall Diet book will help you if you are looking for the original cause of your water retention, meanwhile come off the pills very slowly, don’t stop them suddenly.

  9. I take Lasix once a week. Now that I haven’t taken it it is making me hold alot of water. I eat very healthy and exercise daily. Do you all think my body will eventually adjust to not taking the Lasix? I keep gaining weight every day

  10. I have not been working since jan. I have been in water pills for a long time, but since I stop working a very physical job I retain so much water weight that I have to take my rings off my fingers at night because in the morning they are to tight. Also when I get out of bed in the morning it feels like my whole body is so tight I can hardly walk. One of the reason im off of work is because I cant do the same activity level my body was used to. Does your body become used to lasiks and don’t work the same when you are not as active as I used to be?

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      That’s quite right Susan – one of the dangers of water pills is that if you keep taking them the body develops a tolerance and you need more to achieve the same effect. Hopefully you will soon realize that it’s more important to discover why you have water retention, and that is what my book is all about. The causes are different in different people.

  11. In 1991 I had pre eclampsyia, in which I ended up for two days in intensive care and in three high dependency. I started taking water tablets in 2000 because I noticed that when I kneeled down I would still have the indentation in my skin at least four hours later. My doctor says that these tablets can be dangerous over long term use but I cant come off them cos I swell up over my whole body. I had an ECG prior to a hysterectomy in 2015 which showed no problems. Other tests carried out show that the liver is working well, have very good HB and no sign of anything present in my urine. My age is 51. I would be grateful for any information, thank you.

  12. I have been on a low dose of diuretics (chlorthidone) for a couple of years now to control my high blood pressure. I have recently found out that I am pregnant and want to go off of these (dr. said its fine) because I believe my high blood pressure was due to smoking and drinking (which I have now quit). Long story short……I took my pill every other day instead of everyday for about two weeks and now have gone off of them completely. Now my feet and ankles are swelling really bad. I know it is because of stopping the diuretic, but is there anything I can do? Or will they return to normal eventually?

  13. I have Crohns in control most of the time but Diarrhoea several times a day most days ….. I cope well and used to dealing with the daily drudge of Crohns I am 61, Male. Very active walking up to 5 miles a day. + very active hobbies gliding sailing and classic cars cooking to name a few. I Struggle with high blood pressure on tablets and they keep giving me water tablets that give me pins & needles in my thighs And upper leg left side …. and makes me tired and grumpy and tension in my neck. I do drink red wine … more than I should 🙂 A. I would love to Loose weight I eat around 1800 calories a day + Red wine up to a bottle. B. Stop taking tables I did get down to 14.5 stone but up to 17.5 stone at the moment. If I starve myself I can get to 16 stone any suggestions? I eat well being Chef in a past life, Have few stresses. And love Life.

  14. I am a 60 year old woman who has been given diuretic since she was 16. I’ve been on a range of diuretics and my children have experienced many emergency times where I’ve had low potassium and being rushed to the hospital. I did try to go into a program to get off the water pills which was an anorexic program for substance abuse went 6 weeks in the hospital put on a proper diet and then I was an outpatient with eating at the hospital and therapy. The biggest problem I had was when it came to starting to put on the weight and I asked how do I handle it I had no concrete answers, tatics, or Guidance to deal with the problem. As time went on once again I went back on the diuretics. I get my diuretics from the doctor that not one of my family know who I get it from nor does my doctor know who the doctor is and he’s not very happy. I know this is harmful to my body however I am psychologically relying on these diuretics only in relation to weight. I am on the Paleo diet at the moment and I am on 50 and a half milligrams of a diuretic I want to go back to what I was on at 25 and a half and I take 3 potassium pills APO-K a day. I am going to try and attempt to go off them again but I know when I see the WEIGHT I go back on I will go back thinking I’m indestructible even though my children experience me last night having pins and needles in my arms I had a cramp in my leg and I was dizzy and low blood pressure. There is no concrete exact WAY that a person can help me deal with the after situation of not having those pills to deal with my weight and how to handle it. If you can recommend I’m from Toronto Canada and stay in Florida for 4 months December to April I would like to know where I can get some advice on how to deal with this. I would like to know if going back to the 25 and a half and then 3 potassium pills a day of APO-K Iis a tolerable situation for my body and I will be ok. I am very worried but feel very helpless but making efforts to try and change the situation it is very difficult and I’m saddened that I did not have any help to deal with that before.. By the way my blood pressure is low but its in the normal blood pressure range. Desperate for my Kids who are very concerned, bothered and i am hurting them myself and the rest of my family.

  15. Hello Linda I am 52 years old, fit healthy lady I weight lift at the gym 6 days a week and eat a balanced diet off Macros 1650 cal and increasing. I have not had a period since June of 2015 and this plus water retention are the only two menopausal symptoms other than moody that I have. The fluid retention is what is very uncomfortable, by the end of the day my legs ankles groin and belly are holding fluid, it goes down slightly over night. The feeling of my skin going to pop at the knees hand stiff is so annoying. My doctor has me tracking my weight to see the spikes in retention. In your opinion do you think it is hormonal? I did take a natural fluid tab which worked fabulously and made me feel great, just one day, but I know these are not a permanent thing but they make me feel normal again. Looking for answers?

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Sharon, even if your water retention is linked with a hormonal imbalance, the cause of the hormonal imbalance must be corrected. Please check the other pages on this site—you need to delve a little deeper into the nutritional links with water retention.

  16. Hi Linda. I live in Australia and 4 yrs ago was diagnosed with Scleroderma. I was also diagnosed with underactive Thyroid approx 25yrs ago, which I take 175gms of Thyroxine per day and is under control. About 5 mths ago my Rhumatoligst put me onto Frusemide 40mg 2 per day, due to very swollen legs and feet. At first they worked well, I lost approx 3klo in about 3 weeks, then the swelling returned, I was still taking the tablets. They increased them to 3 per day, was weeing well, but this past 3 weeks I have PUT ON almost 10 kilo. I am not a junk food eater, do all my own cooking, and on the move all day. I live on my own, 71yrs of age, have 2 small dogs and a garden with a lawn, which I cut. Just can not understand the weight gain! Any thoughts, would appreciate.

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      Sheila, there is a lot of helpful advice on this website which can give you clues as to what is causing your condition. If you really get stuck with self-help, you may find it helpful to consult a naturopath. Any thoughts that I might be able to offer would only be a guess and a waste of time without having the opportunity to give you a thorough examination.

  17. E Maurin says:

    My husband has to take 40g Lasix per day due to heart failure and tachycardy. But he is always tired. He already take vit B and magnesium suppkements. How can I help him more?

    • Linda Lazarides says:

      E Maurin, I am very sorry to hear of your husband’s heart problem. He should continue to take the diuretics, which are essential if his heart condition is causing water retention. In this condition the excess water is in the blood, not the body’s tissues, so it is absolutely correct to prescribe Lasix or a similar product. Water pills can be safely used in this condition. They are not safe for ‘idiopathic oedema’ or water retention of unknown cause, where the excess water is in the tissues, not the blood. There is much that your husband can do to help himself. The most important supplements for congestive heart failure are coenzyme Q10, taurine and carnitine. He can take taurine and magnesium together by purchasing supplements of magnesium taurate. You can perhaps google where to buy these. I know you can get them from but I don’t know about other countries. Carnitine is cheapest if bought as a bulk powder rather than as capsules. You can mix it with juice. Coenzyme Q10 is the most expensive, and he will need to take at least 100 mg per day, in divided doses. I also recommend keeping up potassium levels by drinking unsalted tomato and beet juices and seasoning food with salt that contains potassium (some of the low-sodium brands are rich in potassium). Recent research shows that exercise is very beneficial for CHF, and you can google the recent research showing that beet juice helps make exercise easier for people with CHF.

  18. Hi am taking water tablets and am on a diet ive been told to drink two litres a day from my diet consultants. Is ok while on tablets or will i just be getting rid of what am drinking and not whats on my body.

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