Furosemide belongs to a group of drugs called diuretics which increase the amount of urine produced. Furosemide is a medicine used in patients with heart and kidney problems to stop fluid building up in the body and so reduce the workload on the heart.
Furosemide helps the body remove excess water by increasing the amount of urine produced. Furosemide is often given with a weaker diuretic such as amiloride to prevent excess loss of body salts and potassium. Body salt levels (sodium and potassium) can be affected if a person takes diuretics long term so blood tests may be taken to check levels as required.
How is it given?
It may be given once, twice, three or four times a day depending on your child’s condition. Furosemide is available in several different strengths as an oral liquid. At GOSH we use the 50mg in 5mLs strength. Please check that the same strength is given if repeat prescriptions are dispensed from your community pharmacy.
Tablets are available for older children and teenagers in 20mg, 40mg and 500mg strengths. It will make your child pass more urine, so older children may prefer to take furosemide a few hours before bedtime to prevent them having to get up to go to the toilet in the night. You may also need to speak to your child’s teacher if furosemide is given before school, as they may need to leave class more frequently to go to the toilet.
What are the side-effects?
Side effects are rare but occasionally can make your child feel slightly sick.
- Gastrointestinal disturbances (upset stomach)
- Skin rash and photosensitivity
- Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)
- Hearing impairment, tinnitus and deafness: this is usually if furosemide is given by the intravenous drip. If you suspect this, please tell us.
Who should not take furosemide (contraindications)?
People with the following conditions should discuss taking furosemide with their doctor:
- Pregnant, could be pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breast-feeding
- Allergy to sulphonamide drugs
Furosemide and other medications
Some medicines can interact with furosemide. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicines, including herbal or complementary medicines. The following medicines are known to react with furosemide:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Short term use is acceptable if recommended for treatment by a health care professional.
- Keep medicines in a safe place where children cannot reach them.
- Keep medicines in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and away from heat.
- If your doctor decides to stop treatment with furosemide, return any unused medicine to the pharmacist. Do not flush down the toilet or throw it away.
- If you forget to give your child a dose, give it as soon as you remember. Do not give a double dose.
- If you child vomits after taking the medicine, do not give a double dose.
- Your family doctor (GP) will need to give you a repeat prescription for furosemide. Some medicines will need to be ordered by your community pharmacy (chemist) so arrange this in plenty of time.