Mercurial diuretic

Mercurial Diuretic

Mercurial diuretic

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Mercurial diuretics are a form of renal diuretic containing mercury.

Although previously widely used, they have largely been superseded by safer diuretics such as thiazides, and are hardly used anymore.

History and mechanism

Inorganic mercury compounds, such as mercury(I)chloride (calomel), were found to have diuretic properties when they were used to treat syphilis.

Mercurial diuretics cause diuresis by reducing the reabsorption sodium in the ascending loop of Henle, thus causing more water being delivered to the distal convoluted tubule. Unfortunately, earlier physicians misconstrued hallmark symptoms of mercury poisoning such as excessive salivation as signs of mercury's efficacy, including up until the early 1960s when the use of mercurial diuretics were halted in medicine.

Side effects

Due to the idiosyncratic nature of mercury toxicity, the risk of severe disease and sudden death are unpredictable and frequently show no warning signs. Physicians during the 20th century believed that a fever/rash complex suggested the risk of severe side effects for the next upcoming doses if treatment was not halted. Warkany and Hubbard (1953) noted in their...
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