Why is this medication prescribed?
Ethacrynic acid, a 'water pill,' is used to treat swelling and fluid retention caused by various medical problems. It causes the kidneys to get rid of unneeded water and salt from the body into the urine.
How should this medicine be used?
Ethacrynic acid comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once or twice a day with food. If you take ethacrynic acid once a day, take it with breakfast in the morning. If you take it twice a day, take it in the morning and in the afternoon to avoid going to the bathroom during the night. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take ethacrynic acid exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Ethacrynic acid controls high blood pressure but does not cure it. Continue to take ethacrynic acid even if you feel well. Do not stop taking ethacrynic acid without talking to your doctor.
Other uses for this medicine
Ethacrynic acid is also used to treat high blood pressure and a certain type of diabetes insipidus that does not respond to other medicines. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medicine for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking ethacrynic acid,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to ethacrynic acid, any other medications or any of the ingredients in ethacrynic acid tablets. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: other blood pressure medications, anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin), corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone), digoxin (Lanoxin), heart medications, lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid), medications for diabetes, and probenecid (Benemid). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you more carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes, gout, or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking ethacrynic acid, call your doctor.
- talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking ethacrynic acid if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take ethacrynic acid because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking ethacrynic acid.
- you should know that this medication may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this affects you.
- ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol during your treatment with ethacrynic acid. Alcohol can make the side effects of this medication worse.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Follow your doctor's directions. They may include a daily exercise program, a low-salt or low-sodium diet, potassium supplements, and increased amounts of potassium-rich foods (e.g., bananas, prunes, raisins, and orange juice) in your diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Ethacrynic acid may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- frequent urination (should not last longer than a few weeks)
- loss of appetite
- stomach pain
- muscle cramps
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- loss of hearing
- loss of balance
- ringing or fullness in the ears
- sore throat
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
Ethacrynic acid may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly, and blood tests should be done occasionally.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.