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Mannitol is used to prevent or treat excess body water in certain kidney conditions, such as oliguric phase (production of abnormally small amounts of urine) of acute renal failure and for reducing swelling of the brain, or reducing pressure in the eye.

How it works

Mannitol belongs to a class of drugs called osmotic diuretics. Mannitol works by increasing the amount of fluid excreted by the kidneys and helps the body to decrease pressure in the brain and eyes.

Common side effects

Nausea, Pulmonary edema, Acidosis, Anaphylactic reaction, Chest pain, Chills, Convulsion, Dizziness, Electrolyte imbalance, Fever, Headache, Increased blood pressure, Inability to empty the urinary bladder, Inflammation of vein due to blood clot in the blood vessels, Vomiting


Expert advice

  • Tell your doctor if you have swelling, kidney problems, or heart problems (e.g., congestive heart failure).
  • Exercise caution in children <12 years and if you are an elderly patient.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you have difficulty urinating or extreme dizziness.
  • You will be regularly monitored for lab tests such as blood electrolytes, kidney function, lung function, heart function and blood counts.
  • Do not drive or use any machinery after taking mannitol as it may cause dizziness.
  • Do not consume alcohol when on treatment with mannitol, as it may worsen its side effects.
  • Tell your doctor if you are planning or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
  • Do not take if allergic to mannitol or any of its ingredients.
  • Do not take in pre-existing plasma hyperosmolarity.
  • Do not take in severe dehydration, established anuria (failure of the kidneys to produce urine), severe heart failure, severe lung congestion or oedema, active intracranial bleeding (bleeding within the cranial vault), except during craniotomy (surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain).
  • Do not take if suffering from disturbance of the blood-brain barrier.
  • Do not take if suffering from progressive renal damage or dysfunction after institution of mannitol therapy, including increasing oliguria and azotemia (elevation of blood urea nitrogen).

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is mannitol a sugar?
Mannitol is a polyol (sugar alcohol).

Q. Is mannitol salt agar selective?
Yes, mannitol salt agar is a selective, differential and Indicator medium.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)