What is potassium chloride, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What brand names are available for potassium chloride?
K-Dur, KLor Con, K-Tab, (Kaon CL, Klorvess, Slow-K, Ten-K, Klotrix, K-Lyte CL are discontinued brands)
Is potassium chloride available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for potassium chloride?
What are the side effects of potassium chloride?
Common reactions to potassium are primarily gastrointestinal and include reactions such as:
More important side effects include high blood potassium levels (hyperkalemia), abnormal heart beats, bleeding or perforation of the stomach or small intestine from ulcers, and narrowing (stricture) of the small intestine from healed ulcers. Irritation and damage to the stomach can be reduced by taking potassium supplements with meals or reducing the dose.
What is the dosage for potassium chloride?
The usual recommendation for treatment of hypokalemia in adults is 20-40 mEq 2 to 4 times daily. The dose for prevention is 20 mEq daily. Oral potassium is usually taken with meals and fluids to prevent intestinal problems.
Controlled release tablets should be swallowed whole.
Is potassium chloride safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
If the mother's blood potassium level is normal, use of potassium supplements should not adversely affect the infant.
What else should I know about potassium chloride?
What preparations of potassium chloride are available?
- Tablet: 20 mEq; Tablets (Extended release): 8, 10, 15, and 20 mEq;
- Capsules: 8 and 10 mEq.
- Injection: 1, 1.5, 2, 3, and 4 mEq/ml;
- Plastic container: 10, 20, 30, and 40 mEq.
How should I keep potassium chloride stored?
Potassium should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
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Low Potassium (Hypokalemia)
Potassium is an essential electrolyte necessary for cell function. Low potassium (hypokalemia) may be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, ileostomy, colon polyps, laxative use, diuretics, elevated corticosteroid levels, renal artery stenosis, and renal tubular acidosis, or other medications. Symptoms of low potassium include weakness, aches, and cramps of the muscles. Treatment is dependent upon the cause of the low potassium (hypokalemia).
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