How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Amiloride belongs to the class of medications called potassium-sparing diuretics (water pills). It is used alone or in combination with a potassium-depleting diuretic (such as hydrochlorothiazide) to decrease edema (fluid retention) that occurs with congestive heart failure and disorders of the liver. It is also used to lower high blood pressure.

Diuretics work by making the body lose excess water and salt. Amiloride is called a potassium-sparing diuretic because it does not cause potassium to be lost from the body.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than the ones listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each yellow, diamond-shaped, biconvex tablet, engraved "5" on one side and plain on the other, contains 5 mg of amiloride hydrochloride. Nonmedicinal ingredients: lactose monohydrate, microcrystalline cellulose, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, and yellow ferric oxide.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended adult dose of amiloride is 5 mg to 20 mg daily in 1 or 2 divided doses. Amiloride can be taken with or without food, but taking the medication with food can reduce the risk of upset stomach.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take amiloride if you:

  • are allergic to amiloride or any of the ingredients of the medication
  • are taking potassium supplements or other potassium-sparing diuretics (e.g., triamterene or spironolactone)
  • have potassium levels in the blood which are too high (hyperkalemia)
  • have reduced kidney function or kidney disease

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • constipation
  • cough
  • dizziness
  • erectile dysfunction (impotence)
  • gas pain
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • stomach cramps and diarrhea
  • signs and symptoms of too little sodium:
    • drowsiness
    • dry mouth
    • increased thirst
    • lack of energy

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin)
  • skin rash or itching
  • shortness of breath
  • visual disturbances
  • signs and symptoms of too much potassium:
    • confusion
    • irregular heartbeat
    • nervousness
    • numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or lips
    • shortness of breath or difficult breathing
    • unusual tiredness or weakness
    • weakness or heaviness of legs

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face or throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin taking a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should take this medication.

Cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) disease: If you have heart or lung disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

High blood potassium (hyperkalemia): High blood potassium has been observed in some people who receive amiloride either alone or with other diuretics (water pills). This happens mostly in seniors, in people with diabetes, and in people with liver disease or kidney disease. Warning signs or symptoms of high potassium include:

  • confusion
  • irregular heartbeat
  • nervousness
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weakness or heaviness of the legs

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if amiloride passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Do not breast-feed while you are taking this medication.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children. This medication is not recommended for children.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between amiloride and any of the following:

  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (e.g., enalapril, ramipril)
  • cyclosporine
  • digoxin
  • lithium
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • medications that reduce high blood pressure
  • medications that increase potassium levels (such as potassium supplements, spironolactone, triamterene, and salt substitutes containing potassium)
  • quinidine
  • tacrolimus

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.