Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Human body consists of 70 percent of water that exist on both inside and outside of the body cells. Water retention in our body occurs when the fluids accumulate in the body cavities, body systems or tissues. Water retention is medically termed as edema or fluid retention. Water is an important ingredient of blood plasma and helps in maintaining the oxygen supplementation to different organs, glands and tissues of the body. Water is naturally present in bones, muscles and glands to help in nourishment and helps in performing their function.

Medications That Could Cause Water Retention

Many medications or drugs intake presents water retention as a side effect. Some of them are described below:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used for pain, fever, chronic inflammation or blood clot prevention, as well as for injuries or muscle disorders.

Consumption of these drugs has seen to cause fluid retention in some people, which may trigger other congestive cardiovascular disorders or symptoms. It is advisable for heart patients to use these drugs carefully and consume only on recommendation by physicians. Some drugs like Ibuprofen, mostly used for headaches and chronic pain;

Aspirin also used for pain and prevention of blood clots or cardiovascular trigger prevention; Naproxen, Indomethacin, Diclofenac for tooth ache; Celebrex is used mostly in arthritis or menstrual pain etc. are some good examples of NSAIDs.

Corticosteroids Causing Water Retention

Corticosteroids are drugs that belong to the class of steroid hormones. These are formed by the adrenal cortex of the kidneys. There are various analogues of these hormones which are used for different medical conditions. Corticosteroids are divided into two main groups namely: Glucocorticoids and Mineralocorticoids. Glucocorticoids are also called Cortisols and helps in maintaining the stress and psychological balance and are produced during stressful conditions. It maintains the blood sugar levels by the processing gluconeogenesis during hypoglycemic conditions. It metabolizes fat, proteins and carbohydrates in the liver during low sugar concentration and regulates the immune system of the body and suppresses inflammation by preventing antibody response. It is also used for successful treatment for allergies. Glucocorticoid play an important role in wound healing and interferes with abnormal bone growth. These hormones also maintain the body electrolyte balance. Despite having so many benefits, these drugs are seen to be associated with fluid retention as side effect leading to weight gain.

Oral Contraceptive Pills

Other popularly known medications that cause water retention are oral contraceptives that are commonly called as birth control pills. These are the combination of female hormone i.e., estrogen and progestogen which helps in preventing pregnancy by inhibiting the ovulation. However, these are seen to cause water retention and swelling.

Diabetes Medicines

Glitazones, namely Thiazolidindiones, that are used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus Type 2. These drugs increase the amount of fatty acids in fat cells of the body, thus decreasing the amount of free fatty acids in blood. This in turn increases the activity of use of stored carbohydrates in the cells for energy. The most common side effect associated with this class of drugs is water retention followed by reduction in the drug dosage intake. Some examples of this group are Pioglitazone, Rosiglitazone, Troglitazone, Rivoglitazone etc.

Hypertension Medicines Causing Water Retention

Commonly used anti-hypertensives like beta blockers namely Labetalol, Metoprolol, Atenolol, Carvedilol etc along with some ACE inhibitors like Captopril, Ramipril, Benzapril are also known to cause water retention. Also, Diuretics are the class of drugs that are used to reabsorb the sodium, chloride and water into the bloodstream from kidneys leading to water retention or edema. Some of the diuretics that are responsible for water retention are Furosemide, Indapamide, Torsemide etc.

What are the Associated Symptoms of Water Retention?

The symptoms that are associated with water retention which one should look for are:

  • Stiffness in joints
  • Discoloration of skin
  • Body weight fluctuations
  • Joint and muscle tenderness
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling in joints, hands and legs
  • Pitting edema is the most crucial characteristic in identifying water retention.
  • Coughing and breathing difficulties due to edema in lungs caused by fluid accumulation.
  • Indentation in the skin, similar to the ones that one sees when one uses water for a prolonged time.

If one notices these symptoms while taking any group of medicines that has been mentioned above, one must seek medical help and consult a doctor at once.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 16, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest