Hypertension Home > Understanding Effects of Spironolactone and How to Take It

How Does It Work?

Spironolactone is a diuretic, which is commonly referred to as a "water pill." It is known as an aldosterone antagonist, which means that it blocks aldosterone receptors. Aldosterone is a hormone that causes the body to retain water. By blocking it, spironolactone increases the amount of salt and water the kidneys remove from the blood. This extra salt and water is passed out through urine. By increasing the amount of water removed from the blood, spironolactone causes a decrease in blood volume. Because of this effect, the medication can lower blood pressure and also help with water retention.
Spironolactone is a "potassium-sparing" diuretic, which means that it does not cause low potassium levels in the blood, like many other diuretics. In fact, this medication usually increases potassium levels, an effect that can be used to treat low potassium levels (hypokalemia).

When and How to Take the Medication

Some general considerations for when and how to take spironolactone include the following:
  • Spironolactone comes in tablet form. It is usually taken by mouth once or twice a day. In some cases, it may be taken every other day.
  • You can take the medication with or without food.
  • Spironolactone should be taken at the same time(s) each day to maintain an even level in your blood. However, some people do not need to take it every day, especially those who are taking it for fluid retention.
  • Because spironolactone increases urination, it is best to take it the morning to avoid needing to get up to use the bathroom throughout the night. If you take the medication twice a day, try to take the last dose before 6 p.m., unless your healthcare provider instructs you otherwise.
  • For spironolactone to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. The medication will not work if you stop taking it.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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