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Lasix Medicine: Uses & Side Effects

Instructor: Meghan Greenwood

Meghan has taught undergraduate and graduate level science courses and has a PhD in Immunology.

This lesson describes what edema is and when it occurs. It also details what Lasix medicine is and when it is used. The side effects associated with this type of treatment are also explained.

Swelling in the Body

Have you ever had a cut that got infected? Or broken a finger? Even if you have not experienced this type of infection or injury, you probably know someone who has. When an infection or injury occurs, a period of swelling often follows shortly afterwards. The area around the site becomes larger and sometimes red. Edema, or swelling, is not just the side effect of an infection or injury, but instead indicates the beginning stages of healing. When a bone is broken, for example, there is an influx of cells into the injured area. The cells provide healing juices. Similarly, when a cut becomes infected, immune cells that defend our bodies against germs migrate to the area involved and secrete protective juices. These fluids, however, have to eventually be removed from the site once the healing is completed. In a healthy person, the fluid is removed by the vessels that provide drainage and waste removal. Now, imagine that these drains become clogged. Just like with your bathroom sink, a clogged drain can lead to a backup of fluid. When this process occurs within the body, the edema becomes severe. Blocked drainage is just one of the causes of problematic edema. Other causes include low levels of proteins in the system that act like little sponges, decreased heart pumping (effectively causing the backup of the vessels or 'pipes'), critical illness, allergic reactions, or injured vessels (see image below).

The image depicts a healthy capillary above and an injured capillary below. The injury leads to an accumulation of fluid within the system.
injured capillary

What is Lasix Medicine?

Once edema becomes severe, a patient can start to experience shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and mass swelling. In fact, the swelling that occurs can become so serious that pushing on the skin leaves an imprint (see the image below). When that much fluid has accumulated, a patient is usually given a diuretic called Furosemide, which is better known as Lasix. Lasix's diuretic properties means that it can stimulate urination, removing the waste from the body. It is often used to not only reduce edema, but also to decrease blood pressure and improve respiration.

Severe edema can cause a massive accumulation of fluid under the skin. When you push on the skin, an imprint of your finger is left behind.
Edema

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