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Side Effects of Chlorthalidone

By Lisabetta DiVita ; Updated August 14, 2017

Chlorthalidone is a medication used to manage edema, also known as fluid retention, especially when you suffer from such diseases as cirrhosis, liver or kidney disorders and congestive heart failure. According to Drugs.com, chlorthalidone is a thiazide diuretic that regulates the quantity of salt and water that your body retains. It induces frequent urination to get rid of excess bodily fluids. Typically, you will start taking 25mg of chlorthalidone once daily or as your physician prescribes.

Common Side Effects

According to MedlinePlus, chlorthalidone's common side effects include dizziness, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting and a poor appetite. Repetitive bouts of vomiting or diarrhea can leave you very dehydrated or hypokalemic (low potassium levels). Typical signs of dehydration include reduction in urinary frequency and dry oral (of the mouth) mucus membranes. Simply drinking 6 to 10 glasses of water every day can prevent the occurrence of dehydration. Constipation, muscular cramping and fatigue are physical manifestations of hypokalemia. It is important to add potassium-abundant vegetables and fruits into your diet to elevate your blood potassium levels. Such foods include bananas, apricots and raisins. Clorthalidone can also cause thirst, stomach pain and alopecia (hair loss).

Serious Side Effects

The National Library of Medicine says that chlorthalidone can increase urinary excretion of magnesium (an electrolyte) in your body. This results in hypomagnesemia. Signs of hypomagnesemia include muscle cramping, physical weakness, tremors and changes in your heart rhythm. Chlorthalidone can also prevent calcium excretion. This results in a build-up of calcium in your body, medically known as hypercalcemia. Signs of hypercalcemia include nausea, stomach pain, constipation, bone pain and bone fractures.

Drugs.com indicates that chlorthalidone also causes dry mouth, lightheadedness, easy bleeding or bruising and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Lightheadedness results from lowered blood pressure. Less blood flows to your brain occurs when you suffer from hypotension (low blood pressure). Thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) is to blame for easy bleeding and bruising. Low platelet counts prevent your blood from clotting properly. Jaundice is a sign of liver damage. Your doctor will obtain a sample of your blood to check your alanine and aspartate aminotransferase levels (both liver enzymes). Elevated liver enzymes indicate liver disturbances.

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Additional Concerns

Avoid chlorthalidone if you are allergic to thiazide diuretics. An allergic response to chlorthalidone includes trouble breathing, throat or facial swelling and hives. The National Library of Medicine warns that this medication should not be used if you suffer from kidney or liver problems. Chlorthalidone can lead to azotemia, a condition in which elevated levels of nitrogen-products such as urea build in your blood because your kidneys can't filter them. Chlorthalidone can also lead to a hepatic coma, a condition in which your brain and spinal cord are affected because of severe liver injury. Avoid drinking alcohol with chlorthalidone as the combination can exacerbate chlorthalidone's aforementioned side effects.

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