What is acetazolamide?
Acetazolamide reduces the activity of a protein in your body called carbonic anhydrase. Blocking this protein can help reduce the build-up of certain fluids in the body.
This medicine is used in people with certain types of glaucoma to reduce the amount of fluid in the eye, which decreases pressure inside the eye.
This medicine is also used as a diuretic (“water pill”) in people with congestive heart failure, to reduce the build-up of fluid in the body. This build-up is called edema.
This medicine is also used to treat certain types of seizures, and to treat or prevent altitude sickness.
This medicine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
You should not use acetazolamide if you have cirrhosis, severe liver or kidney disease, an electrolyte imbalance, adrenal gland failure, or an allergy to acetazolamide or sulfa drugs.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use acetazolamide if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
- severe liver disease, or cirrhosis;
- severe kidney disease;
- an electrolyte imbalance (such as acidosis or low levels of potassium or sodium in your blood);
- adrenal gland failure; or
- an allergy to sulfa drugs.
To make sure acetazolamide is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- severe breathing problems;
- angle closure glaucoma; or
- if you also take aspirin in high doses.
It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
This medicine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
This medicine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
How should I take this medicine?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not use acetazolamide in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Your dose of this medicine will depend on the condition you are treating. If you take acetazolamide for congestive heart failure, your doctor may tell you to skip your medication for a day. Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions very carefully.
Take this medicine with a full glass of water.
While using acetazolamide, you may need frequent blood tests.
This medicine may be only part of a complete treatment program that may also include other medications. Follow your doctor’s instructions very closely.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
Detailed Acetazolamide dosage information
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking acetazolamide?
acetazolamide may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Acetazolamide can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- blood in urine or stools;
- a seizure (convulsions);
- loss of movement in any part of your body;
- a blood cell disorder–sudden weakness or ill feeling, fever, chills, sore throat, mouth sores, pale skin, feeling tired or short of breath, rapid heart rate, nosebleeds, bleeding gums;
- liver problems–nausea, upper stomach pain or swelling, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
- signs of metabolic acidosis–confusion, vomiting, lack of energy, irregular heartbeats;
- signs of a kidney stone–pain in your side or lower back, blood in your urine, painful or difficult urination; or
- severe skin reaction–fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Common side effects may include:
- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea;
- numbness or tingling, especially in your arms and legs;
- drowsiness, confusion;
- hearing problems, ringing in your ears;
- increased urination; or
- altered sense of taste.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect acetazolamide?
Other drugs may interact with acetazolamide, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
Acetazolamide drug interactions (more detail)