potassium chloride, K-Dur, K-Lor, K-Tab, Kaon CL, Klorvess, Slow-K, Ten-K, Klotrix, K-Lyte CL

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GENERIC NAME: potassium chloride

BRAND NAMES: K-Dur, K-Lor, K-Tab, Kaon CL, Klorvess, Slow-K, Ten-K, Klotrix, K-Lyte CL

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Potassium preparations are used for supplementing potassium in order to treat or prevent low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia). Potassium is a major mineral (electrolyte) that is important for the function of every cell in the body. For example, it is important in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and kidney function. Normal daily dietary intake of potassium is 40-150 mEq. Potassium deficiency occurs when potassium loss exceeds intake. Potassium depletion may be caused by excessive vomiting or diarrhea, diabetic ketoacidosis, diuretics [for example, furosemide (Lasix)], starvation and rare disorders of the adrenal glands. Potassium deficiency causes weakness, fatigue, heart rhythm problems, paralysis, and kidney dysfunction.



PREPARATIONS: Tablets and capsules: 8, 10, 20 mEq. Liquid: 20, 40 mEq/15 ml. Powder: 20, 25 mEq/packet. Injection: 10, 20, 30, 40, 60, 90 mEq and 2 mEq/ml

STORAGE: Potassium should be stored at room temperature, 15-30 C (59-86 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Potassium is used for treating or preventing hypokalemia.

DOSING: The usual adult recommendation for treatment of hypokalemia is 40-100 mEq daily. The dose for prevention is 16-24 mEq daily. Oral potassium is usually taken with meals and fluids to prevent intestinal problems. Liquid should be diluted in water or juice, and controlled release tablets should be swallowed whole.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors [for example, enalapril (Vasotec)], angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) drugs [for example, valsartan (Diovan)] and certain diuretics [for example, spironolactone (Aldactone) and triamterene (Dyrenium)] increase potassium levels, causing high potassium levels in the blood when combined with potassium supplements. Potassium blood levels should be measured regularly in these patients.

Salt substitutes (for example, Mrs. Dash) often contain potassium. Therefore, using salt substitutes while taking potassium supplements may lead to high levels of potassium in the blood.

Drugs that slow transit of food through the intestine [for example, atropine and loperamide (Imodium)] may delay passage of potassium tablets through the digestive system and result in ulceration or narrowing of the small intestine.

PREGNANCY: Potassium supplementation has not been adequately evaluated in pregnant women.

NURSING MOTHERS: If the mother's blood potassium level is normal, use of potassium supplements should not adversely affect the infant.

SIDE EFFECTS: Common reactions to potassium are primarily gastrointestinal and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence and abdominal discomfort. Irritation and damage to the stomach, for example, ulceration, can be reduced by taking potassium supplements with meals, reducing the dose, or diluting liquid preparations with juice. More important side effects include high blood potassium levels, bleeding or perforation of the stomach or small intestine from ulcers, and narrowing (stricture) of the small intestine from healed ulcers.

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Last Editorial Review: 2/5/2009

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