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Water Retention

Water or fluid retention is known medically as oedema. It occurs as a result of excess liquid building up in the body’s blood cells leaving the affected area looking swollen.

  1. Causes swollen areas
  2. Can be an indication of an underlying illness
  3. Effects can be treated with medication

See your GP if you think you may have fluid retention. They will assess your symptoms and issue suitable if required.

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  1. Combats high blood pressure and fluid retention
  2. One tablet a day or less
  3. Effective generic medication

Fluid retention or oedema is a condition often observed in the feet and ankles (peripheral oedema) but it can affect all parts of the body. The affected areas become swollen and enlarged. The symptoms occur as a result of excess fluid remaining in tissue under the skin, usually in blood cells or the connecting cells between the blood vessels known as the interstitium. This particular ailment can result in other troublesome symptoms such as aching limbs, weight gain, weight loss, skin discolouration, stiff joints and an increased blood pressure or pulse rate.

Anyone can be susceptible to water retention but studies have shown that women are more likely to be diagnosed than men. This is thought to be because the female hormone progesterone can encourage the body to retain fluid. Another section of the population where this condition is more commonly found is in the elderly and this could be attributed to a reduction in their general activity. Also certain medications and health conditions can cause oedema symptoms. These include heart failure, blood clots, pregnancy, thyroid disease, varicose veins, liver disease, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, and malnutrition. The medications include contraceptive pill, hypertension treatment and corticosteroids.

It is possible to decrease your chances of developing oedema or improve your condition by making small yet sustainable lifestyle changes. If you are overweight, you may be encouraged to try and lose weight. Exercise, a well-balanced low-salt diet, not standing for too long and raising your legs three or four times a day can help as well.

Treatment to combat oedema comes in the form of orally taken tablets which harness the active ingredient bendroflumethiazide. This works by reducing the swelling caused by excess water through a process that takes place in the kidneys. The active substance encourages the kidneys to extract more potassium and sodium from the blood which draws out the unwanted fluid. The fluid is then expelled from the body as urine.

We do not offer treatments for fluid retention through our online pharmacy. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should make an appointment with your GP.

Page last reviewed:  13/06/2018
Types of Treatment

Types of Treatment

Fluid or water retention is a fairly common condition in adults, although you can reduce your chances of developing this condition by making certain lifestyle changes. For example those overweight should try and lose weight, eat a well-balanced and low-salt diet, exercise regularly, raise your legs throughout the day and do not stand for long periods of time. It is not always possible to diagnose the medical reason why fluid retention occurs and this is referred to as idiopathic oedema. Many cases of oedema clear up on their own accord but because the symptoms can be an indication of an underlying health problem it is important to seek medical advice.

Treatment may be advised in the form of an orally taken tablet from the thiazide diuretics category of medicines. These include Aprinox and Bendroflumethiazide.

How do they work?

Both tablets contain the active ingredient bendroflumethiazide. This substance works in the kidneys by removing the excess fluid from the body’s bloodstream. It does this by extracting potassium and sodium from the blood vessels, these salts draw the retained liquid with them which is then passed into the bladder to be excreted as urine.

What are the side effects?

As both products contain the same ingredients they can produce similar unwanted reactions. These may, but do not exclusively, include skin rashes, blood disorders, diarrhoea and sensitivity to light. You can find further information in the patient leaflets for these medicines.

Can I take them with other medications?

Water retention treatments may interfere with other types of medicine. During consultation with your GP, you should disclose any medications that you are currently taking or have recently taken.

Page last reviewed:  13/06/2018
Question and Answers

What’s the difference between the medications?

Both products are orally taken tablets containing the active ingredient bendroflumethiazide. Aprinox is the branded treatment whereas its generic counterpart has the same name as the active ingredient.

Should I take Aprinox or Bendroflumethiazide?

It will depend on the extent of your symptoms, and whether or not the medications are suitable for you. Your doctor will determine which (if any) course of treatment is most appropriate in your case.

Are there different side effects?

These treatments may cause unwanted side effects for some people. Potential side effects include skin rashes, dizziness, dry mouth and diarrhoea. Consult the patient information leaflets for more details on side effects.

Is it right for me?

See your doctor if you think you may have water retention. Your GP will decide on the best course of action after assessing your symptoms. 

Page last reviewed:  13/06/2018

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This content was reviewed by a clinician on

13 June 2018
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 13 June 2018
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