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Ethacrynic Acid

(eth a krin' ik)

Brand Name(s): Edecrin®; also available generically

WHY is this medicine prescribed?

Ethacrynic acid is used to treat edema (fluid retention; excess fluid held in body tissues) in adults and children caused by medical problems such as cancer, heart, kidney, or liver disease. Ethacrynic acid is in a class of medications called diuretics ('water pills'). It works by causing the kidneys to get rid of unneeded water and salt from the body into the urine.

Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

Ethacrynic acid is also used to treat high blood pressure and a certain type of diabetes insipidus that does not respond to other medicines. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medicine for your condition.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

HOW should this medicine be used?

Ethacrynic acid comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once or twice a day with food or after meals depending on your doctor's instructions. Take ethacrynic acid at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take ethacrynic acid exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

Before taking ethacrynic acid,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to ethacrynic acid, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in ethacrynic acid tablets. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: aminoglycoside antibiotics such as amikacin and gentamicin (Garamycin); anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); cephalosporin antibiotics such as cefaclor, cefadroxil, and cephalexin (Keflex); corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, hydrocortisone (Cortef), methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisolone (Prelone), or prednisone (Rayos); digoxin (Lanoxin), lithium (Lithobid); and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you more carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have kidney disease. Your doctor may tell you not to take ethacrynic acid.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes, gout, or liver disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking ethacrynic acid, call your doctor.
  • talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking ethacrynic acid if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take ethacrynic acid because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.

What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?

Follow your doctor's directions. They may include a daily exercise program, a low-salt or low-sodium diet, potassium supplements, and increased amounts of potassium-rich foods (e.g., bananas, prunes, raisins, and orange juice) in your diet.

What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

Ethacrynic acid may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • frequent urination (should not last longer than a few weeks)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • loss of appetite
  • thirst
  • muscle cramps
  • weakness
  • headache
  • diarrhea

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking ethacrynic acid and call your doctor immediately:

  • severe, watery diarrhea
  • loss of hearing
  • confusion
  • loss of balance
  • ringing or fullness in the ears
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • rash
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

Ethacrynic acid may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have unusual problems while you are taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?

Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may monitor your blood pressure and weight during your treatment and may order blood tests to check your body's response to ethacrynic acid.

Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

Pronunciation Guide for Drug Names is used with permission. © 2009. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. All Rights Reserved.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information™. © Copyright, 2020. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists®, 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: July 15, 2018.