How long to lose 20 lbs. of water weight without diuretics?
October 6, 2008 2:08 PM   Subscribe

How long to lose 20 lbs. of water weight without diuretics?

Two months after switching to Amplodipine (a calcium blocker) for secondary hypertension, it became obvious that I have been suffering from common side effects associated with the drug, especially headaches, hot flashes, weight gain, and swelling of the legs and feet (it was the last part that got so bad that I eventually figured out that something was wrong - I can barely walk by the end of the day).

Yes, I've seen my doctor and switched medications, but I'm wondering how long I can expect it to take for me to shed the water weight and stop with the swelling feet, already. When I saw my doctor, he said something vague like "soon" and I was in too much of a hurry to think to ask the obvious follow up question (and I imagine it probably varies a lot, anyway). So I'll ask you, instead, since I'm sure some of you MeFites have had experience with fluid retention issues, for whatever reason. Once the initial cause of your problem was returned to balance, how long has it generally taken you to shed the weight?

We figure I've added close to 20 pounds of fluids over 2 months. Unfortunately, I need to avoid strong diuretics since my blood pressure problem is the result of a damaged kidney, and I don't want to stress my kidneys any more than necessary. But I have been reducing my sodium intake, drinking extra water, and eating more protein than carbs. Also raising my feet at night.

Any help or personal anecdotes on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

(Also, Super-Extra-Special-Fuzzy-Bonus points for anyone who knows how long it generally takes for Amlodipine to leave your system. I was on 5 mg/day for the first month, and 10 mg/day for the second.)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wrestlers who need to make weight (lose as much water as they can) go jogging in garbage bags and sweat it out.

It's not the most healthy thing in the world to do.

When was the last time you've visited a sauna (but then, that's probably bad for your blood pressure)?
posted by porpoise at 2:22 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am a kidney transplant recipient and in the past I have retained a fair amount of water due to sodium-sparing steroid treatments and was unable to use Lasix, etc. because of the transplant. I drank a LOT of water and iced tea, did moderate exercise for long periods, cut the carbs, ate a close-to-zero sodium diet (as reported by nutritional info, anyway), ate only at mealtimes, and ate a crapload of potassium. I shed about 5 pounds of water in 3 or 4 days.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:24 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're already doing what I would suggest - more protein, fewer carbs. If you can, at least temporarily, eliminate all grains and sugars from your diet, you might lose significant water weight pretty quickly - and, as long as you get your fiber from green veggies, this isn't an unhealthy thing to do.
posted by chez shoes at 2:32 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

For the bonus question: 10 mg/day of amlodipine has a half-life in the body of a day and a half. So in three days after stopping, it should be down to one-fourth of the baseline level, and in six days down to 1/16.
posted by exogenous at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, post-preeclampia plus c-section swelling was pretty insane for me. Pregnant women often have lot of fluid retention and then adding on the fluids that they pump you up with fill on an IV makes for grumpy ladies without any shoes that fit. It took aout a week for it get mostly normal. About 2-3 days after having the baby, I started peeing a lot (again!) and sweating profusely at night. And then my ankles came back and i could wear rings again.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:38 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

The south beach diet causes a large number of people (myself included) to lose quite a bit of water weight the first couple of weeks. Basically, it also boils down to cutting out all sugars (including fruit) and carbs. Basically, all you are allowed to eat is veggies that are low in sugar content, and lean protein.
posted by cgg at 2:41 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow - thanks everyone! I really appreciate the help. I've been off the Amlodipine since Friday, so it sounds like I should start getting some real relief within a few days. Plus, I should be able to switch over from a calcium blocker headache to a ketosis headache any time now. Yeah, me!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:27 PM on October 6, 2008

Pregnant women often have lot of fluid retention and then adding on the fluids that they pump you up with fill on an IV makes for grumpy ladies without any shoes that fit.

otherworldlyglow, that picture made my toes itch. I had a similar experience during my c-section (long labor, bags and bags of fluid), and my husband told me, "You don't have cankles, you have thankles!"

I'm only 5'3", but once I got home from the hospital, I lost 3-6 pounds a day for about 10 days - all water. And I had forgotten about the sweating - god, the sweating.
posted by peep at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2008

Wow. My previous comment is rife with typos. I think the trauma of remembering my own "thankles" (yep, that's exactly what I had) is to blame.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2008

I'm curious where people get the idea that drinking extra water somehow makes you lose water weight? I hear this a lot and it makes no sense what so ever to me, and I'd make sure to ask your doctor if that really makes sense for your specific case.

I wish I could answer your question Flo, but there just isn't a satisfactory answer. It depends on your fluid and salt intake, remaining kidney function, the condition of your heart and liver, your nutritional state, and probably a host of other things I can't think of.. As a very rough estimate, I'd be happy if there was noticeable improvement in a few weeks but wouldn't be surprised if it took a few months.
posted by drpynchon at 7:55 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you Google "lose water weight," the majority of the sites will include drinking extra water as one of the most important steps. Typically, they explain this in two ways: 1) your body will store extra water if it isn't getting enough; 2) extra water will flush your kidneys and help to restore your natural water/sodium balance.

Now, I generally take such advice with a grain of salt, but since I have to watch my sodium intake, that isn't an option at the moment. A lot of the advice is offered by bloggers and reporters (laymen), and diet "experts," so I'm not sure whether that prevailing wisdom is based on actual science, or if it's just an oft-repeated urban myth based on pseudo-science (paging asavage). Plus, since my issue wasn't caused through "natural" retention anyway, I'm not sure if the advice would apply to me even if true.

Either way, though, there is one element of the advice that rings true to me, which is that when they say to drink "extra" water, for the most part they mean "enough" water. The assumption being that most of us don't really drink the suggested 8 glasses of water a day, so those of us having body fluid issues should probably increase our intake at least up to the recommended levels. In my case, that's what I meant when I said that I've been drinking extra water. I'm not drinking crazy amounts for the same reason that I'm not taking diuretics, but I am making an effort to at least maintain a healthy fluid intake.

I'm reasonably healthy otherwise, but I suspect this may take a while to completely work itself out. Nevertheless, I'm hopeful that I might be able to see some real progress and relief over the next couple of weeks. I'll be sure to update the thread to add a data point for future readers.

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:10 AM on October 7, 2008

Quick follow-up: It's been a week, and I'm definitely seeing improvement. I've lost maybe a third of the water weight, and most importantly, the swelling in my legs and feet has mostly disappeared. I can walk normally, again, and I'm feeling much better. It may take a while for a complete reversal, but this was the kind of progress I was hoping for. It didn't take any extraordinary measures on my part, just as I said above, avoiding sodium, eating more protein than carbs, and keeping adequately hydrated. Thanks to everyone here for your support!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:30 PM on October 10, 2008

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