Meds and you

27 September 2013


Triamterene is a potassium-sparing diuretic. Diuretics are drugs that increase the production of urine, thereby reducing excess water in the body.


Triamterene Triamterene is one of multiple active ingredients found Dyazide tablets (Nappi Code: 721824-005), Renezide tablets (Nappi Code: 780146-018/026) and Sandoz Co-Triamterzide (Nappi Code: 789674-009/033).

General information
Triamterene is a potassium-sparing diuretic. Diuretics are drugs that increase the production of urine, thereby reducing excess water in the body.

Most diuretics cause a loss of potassium from the body which may cause side effects such as muscle cramps. Triamterene doesn't have this effect and is therefore called a potassium-sparing diuretic.

In South Africa triamterene is registered for the treatment of oedema - an accumulation of excessive amounts of fluid in body tissue resulting in swelling - that results from conditions such as congestive heart failure and kidney or liver disorders. It is also used for the treatment of mild to moderately high blood pressure, often in combination with another diuretic or blood pressure lowering drug.

Triamterene is not a cure for high blood pressure, but is effective in keeping it under control. For it to be effective you must take it regularly. High blood pressure declines slowly and it may take a few weeks for triamterene to reach its full effect. Keep taking this medicine during this period, even if you are feeling better or fail to notice any improvement.

The first couple of doses of this medication may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure which may cause dizziness or blackouts when you suddenly get up. It is therefore advised to be resting when starting treatment and to lie down for 2 hours afterwards.

Triamterene may colour your urine blue. This is completely harmless and should be no cause for concern.

The diuretic should best be taken in the morning to prevent additional night-time visits to the toilet. It is possible that you may produce a larger volume of urine at the start of treatment with triamterene. Be aware of where your nearest ablution facilities are if you are away from home!

How does triamterene work?
Triamterene has an effect on the kidneys to increase the amount of urine that your body passes. It thereby reduces fluid retention and high blood pressure.

Triamterene's potassium sparing effect is a result of it reducing the re-absorption of sodium in the kidney.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 3
Available as: triamterene is available as tablets.
What does it do? Triamterene is a diuretic. It increase the excretion of water through the kidneys.
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is Triamterene available as a generic? yes
Is Triamterene available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: within 4 hours
Duration of action: up to 9 hours
Dietary advice: foods high in potassium should be avoided. These include bananas, tomatoes and dried fruit.
Stopping this medicine: It may be dangerous to discontinue this drug abruptly as symptoms of the condition being treated may recur. Don’t discontinue this drug without speaking to your doctor.
Prolonged use: no problems are expected – it may however be necessary to monitor blood salt levels occasionally.

Special precautions Consult your doctor before using this drug if:


  • you have kidney or liver disease
  • you are diabetic
  • you are a taking a potassium supplement
  • you have difficulty urinating
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: this medication is safe for use.
Infants and children: safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side-effects are more likely.
Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness. or light-headedness. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects


Side Effect
Consult your doctor
Only if severe
In all cases
reduced appetite
stomach cramps
visual disturbances
skin rash/itch
muscle cramps/spasms
bladder spasm


Drug interactions


ACE inhibitor drugs such as enalapril, captopril, etc. increased potassium in body; risk of toxicity
cyclosporin increased risk of kidney damage
lithium increased risk of lithium toxicity
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs increased risk of kidney damage
potassium supplements increased risk of potassium toxicity
potassium sparing diuretics such as amiloride and spironolactone increased risk of potassium toxicity

Food interactions
Avoid foods rich in potassium including bananas, tomatoes and dried fruits.

Disease interactions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have kidney or liver disease, difficulty urinating or if you are diabetic.

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Triamterene is only available as part of combination products. Adults: daily intake of triamterene should not exceed 25-50 mg


This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

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