- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: potassium citrate
Brand Name: Urocit K
Drug Class: Urinary Alkalinizing Agents
What is potassium citrate, and what is it used for?
Potassium citrate is a medication used in the management of kidney conditions that promote formation of kidney stones (nephrolithiasis), including renal tubular acidosis and low citrate excretion in the urine (hypocitraturia).
Renal tubular acidosis is a condition of excessive urine acidity caused when the kidneys are unable to remove the acid wastes from the blood as efficiently as they should, which can lead to the formation of calcium oxalate stones in the kidneys. Inadequate citrate in the urine is another risk factor for kidney stone formation.
Kidney stones tend to form in an acidic environment, and reduction in urinary acidity prevents the crystallization of stone-forming salts including calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate and uric acid. Potassium citrate increases urinary citrate and pH levels, making the urine more alkaline and less conducive to crystallization of urinary salts. Potassium citrate also increases urinary potassium, and in some patients, causes a transient decrease in urinary calcium.
Potassium citrate works in multiple ways to prevent kidney stones. Increased citrate in the urine forms complexes with calcium, and reduces calcium ion activity and calcium oxalate saturation. Citrate also inhibits the spontaneous nucleation of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. The increase in pH also decreases calcium ion activity, promoting citrate complexation with calcium. The higher alkalinity increases the ionization of uric acid to the more soluble urate ion.
The FDA-approved uses of potassium citrate include:
- Renal tubular acidosis with calcium stones
- Hypocitraturic calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis from any cause
- Uric acid lithiasis with or without calcium stones
- Do not use in patients with hypersensitivity to any of the components in the potassium citrate formulation.
- Do not use potassium citrate in patients with high blood potassium levels (hyperkalemia) or predisposition for hyperkalemia, further increase in potassium levels can lead to cardiac arrest. Conditions that predispose an individual for hyperkalemia include:
- Do not administer potassium citrate concurrently with potassium-sparing medications such as triamterene, spironolactone or amiloride.
- Do not administer potassium citrate to patients who have conditions that may delay the passage of the tablet through the gastrointestinal system, including:
- Esophageal compression
- Delayed gastric emptying
- Gastrointestinal obstruction or stricture
- Concomitant anticholinergic treatment
- Do not use potassium citrate in patients with urinary tract infection, the bacterial enzyme may degrade citrate. The increased pH may promote bacterial growth.
- Do not use it in patients with peptic ulcer disease, potassium citrate may exacerbate the condition.
- Patients with cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure or cardiac arrhythmia are at a higher risk for life-threatening cardiac effects from hyperkalemia. Use potassium citrate with caution and monitor closely with ECGs and blood tests.
- There have been reports of ulcerative lesions in the gastrointestinal passage caused by local concentration of potassium ions in the region of dissolving tablets. Discontinue the drug immediately if the patient develops severe vomiting, abdominal pain or gastrointestinal bleeding and investigate the possibility of bowel obstruction or perforation.
- Use with caution in patients with acid-base disorders, and impaired liver or kidney function.
- Closely monitor potassium levels in patients taking concomitant non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), NSAIDs may cause potassium retention.
What are the side effects of potassium citrate?
Common side effects of potassium citrate include:
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
- Weed-Friendly Posts on Social Media Get Teens Using Cannabis
- Deer Carry COVID Variants No Longer Seen in People
- Working Gets Tough When Grieving a Lost Spouse
- Obamacare Helped Women in Some Southern States Get Better Breast Cancer Care
- AHA News: Pregnancy Complications Could Increase Woman's Stroke Risk at Earlier Age
- More Health News »
What are the dosages of potassium citrate?
Tablet, Extended Release
- 5 mEq
- 10 mEq
- 15 mEq
Mild to Moderate Hypocitraturia
- Urinary citrate more than 150 mg/day
- Immediate release: 10 mEq 3 times daily; not to exceed 100 mEq/day
- Extended release: 15 mEq 2 times daily or 10 mEq 3 times daily; not to exceed 100 mEq/day
- Urinary citrate less than 150 mg/day
- Immediate release: 20 mEq 3 times daily or 15 mEq 4 times daily; not to exceed 100 mEq/day
- Extended release: 30 mEq 2 times daily or 20 mEq 3 times daily; not to exceed 100 mEq/day
- Titrate dose to achieve urinary citrate 320-640 mg/day and urinary pH 6.0-7.0 (maximum dose 100 mEq/day)
- Administer dose with meals or within 30 minutes after meals or bedtime snack
- Twenty-four-hour urinary citrate and/or urinary pH measurements should be used to determine adequacy of initial dosage and to evaluate the effectiveness of any dosage change
- Safety and efficacy not established
- Potassium citrate can increase blood potassium to dangerously high levels (hyperkalemia). Hyperkalemia may be asymptomatic except for high concentration of potassium in blood and ECG changes, but can lead to muscle paralysis, cardiovascular collapse and cardiac arrest.
- Patients with potassium citrate overdose should be monitored closely for electrolyte imbalance and irregular heart rhythm. Overdose may be treated with:
What drugs interact with potassium citrate?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Potassium citrate has no known severe interactions with other drugs.
- Serious Interactions of potassium citrate include:
- Potassium citrate has moderate interactions with at least 101 different drugs.
- Potassium citrate has mild interactions with at least 26 different drugs.
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- It is not known if potassium citrate can affect reproductive capacity in women of pregnancy potential, or cause fetal harm if administered to a pregnant woman. Potassium citrate should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
- It is not known if potassium citrate affects the normal potassium ion content of breast milk. Potassium citrate should be administered to a nursing mother only if clearly needed.
What else should I know about potassium citrate?
- Take potassium citrate tablet exactly as prescribed. Do not crush, chew or suck.
- You may require regular blood tests and ECGs while on potassium citrate, follow up with your doctor.
- Notify your physician immediately if you notice tarry stools or other signs of gastrointestinal bleeding.
- Store safely out of reach of children.
- In case of overdose, seek medical help immediately or contact Poison Control.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Potassium citrate is a medication used in the management of kidney conditions that promote formation of kidney stones (nephrolithiasis), including renal tubular acidosis and low citrate excretion in the urine (hypocitraturia). Common side effects of potassium citrate include high blood potassium levels (hyperkalemia), abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Do not use if you have high blood potassium levels (hyperkalemia) or a predisposition for hyperkalemia. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Ways to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy
You might know that more than a drink or two a day is bad for your health. But in some cases, any alcohol at all may not be a...
Kidney Health: Conditions That Affect Your Kidneys
Your kidneys help filter all the waste products your body builds up in its natural processes. Learn more from WebMD about the...
Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
What causes kidney stones? Where is kidney stone pain located on your body? Learn the symptoms and signs of kidney stone pain....
Kidney Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Kidney disease is common. Take this kidney disease quiz to test your knowledge and learn the symptoms, causes and types of kidney...
Picture of Kidney Stone Crystal
Kidney stones are made of salts and minerals in the urine that stick together, creating small "pebbles" formed within the kidney...
Picture of Kidney Stone Diagnosis
The diagnosis of kidney stones is suspected by the typical pattern of symptoms when other possible causes of the abdominal or...
Picture of Kidney Stone
A stone in the kidney (or lower down in the urinary tract). See a picture of Kidney Stone and learn more about the health topic.
Picture of Kidneys
The kidneys are a pair of organs located in the back of the abdomen. See a picture of the Kidneys and learn more about the health...
Surprising Things That Can Hurt Your Kidneys
Your kidneys do a lot for you. But are you helping or hurting them? Click through the WebMD quiz to find out how you might be...
Kidney Health: Warning Signs of Kidney Problems
Your kidneys are your body's clearinghouse for toxins. Learn what swollen feet, muscle cramps, and other warning signs may signal...
Kidney Cancer: Symptoms, Stages, and Treatment
Find out from this WebMD slide show about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for this common type of cancer, and learn what...
Related Disease Conditions
Kidney (Renal) Failure
Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss, dehydration, or medication. Some of the renal causes of kidney failure include sepsis, medications, rhabdomyolysis, multiple myeloma, and acute glomerulonephritis. Post renal causes of kidney failure include bladder obstruction, prostate problems, tumors, or kidney stones.Treatment options included diet, medications, or dialysis.
What Foods Help Repair Kidneys?
If you have chronic kidney disease, it is crucial to track food and fluid intake because diseased kidneys can’t remove waste products from the body like healthy kidneys can. Good foods that help repair your kidneys include apples, blueberries, fish, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes.
What Level of BUN Indicates Kidney Failure?
Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is one of the parameters measured to ascertain kidney function. BUN indicates the urea nitrogen produced in the body during protein breakdown. There is no definite value of BUN that would diagnose kidney failure.
Kidney pain has a variety of causes and symptoms. Infection, injury, trauma, bleeding disorders, kidney stones, and less common conditions may lead to kidney pain. Symptoms associated with kidney pain may include fever, vomiting, nausea, flank pain, and painful urination. Treatment of kidney pain depends on the cause of the pain.
Kidney Stones (Nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalline material that form in the kidneys. Symptoms and signs of kidney stones can include pain, nausea, vomiting, and even fever and chills. Kidney stones are diagnosed via CT scans and specialized X-rays. Treatment of kidney stones involves drinking lots of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain medications to medical intervention including prescription medications, lithotripsy, and sometimes even surgery.
How Long Does It Take a UTI to Turn Into a Kidney Infection?
Failing to treat a urinary tract infection can lead to serious health problems, including kidney infections. If you have lingering symptoms, or recurrent UTIs, it is important to see your medical provider.
How Long Can You Live With Stage 5 Kidney Disease?
Although the lifespan of stage 5 kidney disease depends on certain factors, the average length of time a patient lives ranges from 5-10 years.
Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis)
Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) usually is caused by E. coli and other bacteria that have spread from the bladder from a UTI (urinary tract infection), poor hygiene, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, catheter, cystoscope exam, surgery, kidney stones, or prostate enlargement. Symptoms of kidney infection include back pain, frequent urination, pain during urination, fever, and or pus or blood in the urine. Kidney infection can be cured with antibiotic treatment. Cranberry juice may prevent UTIs, but that hasn’t been proven in all research studies.
Angiomyolipomas are noncancerous tumors that are typically found in the kidney, but may occur in the liver, ovary, colon, or Fallopian tube. Symptoms and signs include shock, chronic kidney disease, anemia, vomiting, nausea, and back or flank pain. Treatment may involve taking medication and embolization of the tumor.
Kidney Infection in Adults
Second Source article from Government
Second Source article from Government
What Dissolves Kidney Stones Fast?
One of the best and easiest ways to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of water. Generally, health experts recommend drinking about 12 glasses per day to help flush stones out of the urinary system. Sipping water throughout the day will help people stay hydrated and reduce their risk of kidney stone formation.
Hypertension-Related Kidney Disease
Second Source WebMD Medical Reference
How Long Can a Person Live With Stage V Kidney Failure Without Dialysis?
Life expectancy for stage V kidney failure without dialysis varies from person to person. However, death is inevitable within a few weeks.
What Are the Most Common Kidney Diseases?
The most common type of kidney disease is chronic kidney disease (CKD). Other diseases include acute kidney injury, stones, infections, cysts, and cancer.
Can a Damaged Kidney Repair Itself?
Kidney damage in acute kidney failure can be reversed with prompt hospitalization and lifestyle modifications. However, chronic kidney failure is often irreversible.
What Should You Not Eat With Kidney Stones?
Here are the foods you should avoid when you have kidney stones, which include salt-rich foods, oxalate-rich foods, fatty foods, and more than 3-ounces of meat daily.
How Do You Know if a UTI Has Spread to Your Kidneys?
A UTI is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract. Signs that a UTI has spread to the kidneys include chills, high fever, nausea, and vomiting, and other signs.
Can You Live With Stage I Kidney Disease?
Because you can halt further kidney damage with diet modification and supportive treatment, patients can live an extra 30 years following their stage I CKD diagnosis.
How Do I Get Rid of a Cyst on My Kidney?
Learn what medical treatments can help get rid of your kidney cysts and speed up your recovery.
Are Bananas Bad for Kidneys?
Bananas are not bad for the kidneys unless the kidneys are damaged. Damaged kidneys build up potassium in the blood, resulting in serious heart problems. Potassium is present in bananas, other fruits and vegetables (such as potatoes, avocados and melons). People with advanced kidney disease are usually advised to avoid some fruits and vegetables, including bananas. Apart from this, bananas are safe and healthy to eat.
What Does the Beginning of a Kidney Infection Feel Like?
Kidney infections are always caused by a pathogen in your organs. The beginning of a kidney infection may produce back pain, fever, chills, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
What Does 3b Mean in Kidney Disease?
In stage 3b kidney disease, eGFR is between 30-44 mL/min. Symptoms and signs may include back pain, swollen hands and feet, abnormal urination, hypertension, and anemia.
Is Plant Protein Good or Bad for Kidneys?
Eating less meat and more vegetables has many health benefits. Plant protein may help lower your risk of kidney disease.
What Are the First Signs of Kidney Problems?
Keeping an eye out for these early warning signs of kidney problems can help you detect and treat the condition in a timely manner.
Can a Kidney Infection Cause Back Pain?
Many people are affected by lower back pain. Learn how to tell if lower back pain is due to a kidney infection or the result of other causes.
Kidney Pain vs. Back Pain
The signs and symptoms of kidney pain and back pain depend upon the underlying cause. Doctors may use blood tests, X-rays, CT, and/or MRI to diagnose kidney pain and back pain. Treatment may include rest, ice, stretching, muscle strengthening, and pain-relieving medications.
How Can I Check My Kidneys at Home?
Albumin home test kits and smartphone-enabled home urinalysis devices are available to check your kidney function at home.
Hypertension-Induced Chronic Kidney Disease
Hypertension-induced chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long-standing kidney condition that develops over time due to persistent or uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension).
Can a Person Recover From Kidney Failure?
Recovery from kidney failure varies, depending on whether the condition is chronic or acute. Learn about renal failure treatment options.
Can Drinking Water Stop Kidney Failure?
While drinking more water can help boost kidney function, there is no evidence that suggests that it can prevent the progress of kidney failure.
Signs of a Kidney Disease
Most of the signs of kidney diseases are unnoticed, ignored, or appear very late in the disease. Over 37 million American adults have kidney diseases, and most are not aware of it.
How Do I Know if My Back Pain Is Kidney Related?
The pain of kidney infection may be felt on the sides (flanks) and the back. Unlike the classical back pain due to muscle or bone involvement, which typically affects the lower back, kidney pain is felt higher up and at a greater depth.
How Long Does it Take to Pass a Kidney Stone?
What are kidney stones and what do they feel like? Learn the signs of kidney stones and what to do if you have kidney stone pain.
Is Banana Good for Kidney Stones?
Bananas may be a particularly helpful remedy against kidney stones, as they are rich in potassium and magnesium and low in oxalates.
What Is Kidney Cancer Pain Like?
A small tumor in the kidney that may be painless and often an accidental finding on sonography. The patients suffering from advanced kidney cancer may usually complain of back pain, which may be described as a dull ache to a sharp stabbing pain below the ribs on the back or one side of the flank. If there is a sudden persistent pain that lasts more than a few days, a doctor visit is recommended to rule out kidney cancer.
What Are the 5 Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease?
The doctor will take your complete medical history along with your family history, such as if anyone in your family has or had diabetes, whether you are on any medications (that can cause kidney damage), and so on. They will perform a thorough physical examination to see if you have any signs or symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
What Is the Best Kidney Disease Treatment?
There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but treatment can help relieve the symptoms and prevent them from worsening. Here are the five best treatments for kidney disease.
Which Method Is Best to Remove Kidney Stones?
Retrograde intrarenal surgery (RIRS) is the best procedure for removing kidney stones and consists of the following steps.
Can You Live a Normal Life After Donating a Kidney?
Kidney donor surgery is considered a very low-risk surgery with few major complications. People who have donated a kidney can lead active and full lives.
How Long Can a Person Live With Stage 1 Kidney Disease?
Chronic kidney disease means your kidneys aren't working as well as they should. It's possible to live for many years with kidney disease.
Is Kidney Cancer Curable?
Kidney cancer is an uncontrolled division of cells (cancer) that begins in the kidney. How curable is a particular cancer depends on its stage, its cell type, and the stage at which it is diagnosed.
How Can I Improve My Kidney Health? Nine Tips
Kidneys are vital organs involved in performing several important functions in the body. Almost a third of the adults in the United States are at risk of developing kidney diseases. People who are on long-term medications or suffering from conditions such as diabetes and hypertension have a higher risk of kidney diseases.
What Are the Symptoms of Stage IV Kidney Disease?
Stage IV kidney disease occurs when your estimated eGFR falls to 15-19 mg/mL, indicating severe loss of kidney function. Learn about symptoms and stages.
What Is the First Sign of Kidney Cancer?
When cells in the kidney become malignant or cancerous, they grow out of control forming a tumor, in one or both kidneys, resulting in kidney cancer. In adults, renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common type of kidney cancer. Other less common types of kidney cancer can occur rarely.
How Can You Tell if You Have a Kidney Infection?
Kidney infection or pyelonephritis is a serious medical condition in which there is an infection of one or both the kidneys.
What Are the Early Signs of Kidney Cancer?
Kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma is an abnormal growth of kidney cells. The most common and early sign of kidney cancer is blood in the urine or hematuria.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), or chronic kidney failure, is slow and progressive loss of kidney function over several years. CKD is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively.
What Are 3 Diseases That Affect the Kidneys?
Diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure (hypertension), and reduced blood flow to the kidneys are the most common diseases that can affect the kidneys.
How Do You Know If You Have a Kidney Infection?
A kidney infection is a potentially life-threatening illness if left untreated. Learn the signs of a kidney infection, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat a kidney infection.
Can Stage 1 Kidney Disease Be Cured?
Stage 1 kidney disease causes mild damage to your kidneys. Kidney disease cannot be cured.
What Can Patients With Kidney Failure Eat?
If you have kidney failure, you need to be even more careful about your diet. Learn about what foods to avoid with kidney disease.
What Is the Main Cause of Kidney Cancer?
The main cause of kidney cancer is altered DNA or a genetic mutation. These mutations lead to a potentially fatal, uncontrolled cell growth in the kidneys.
What Is the Best Thing to Do If You Have a Kidney Stone?
If you have a kidney stone, the best thing you can do is to stay hydrated and follow your doctor’s recommendations. Learn about kidney stone treatment and prevention.
How Is Kidney Cancer Diagnosed?
Kidney cancer is usually asymptomatic in earlier stages. The tumor is usually found when a patient undergoes medical tests for another reason. A doctor may order the following tests to confirm the diagnosis.
What Is the Most Common Primary Tumor of the Kidney in Children?
Wilms tumor, also known as nephroblastoma, is the most common primary tumor of the kidney in children. In the United States, 500 to 600 new instances of Wilms tumor are diagnosed each year.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Kidney Disease FAQs
- Kidney Infections During Pregnancy
- Polycystic Kidney Disease Gene Isolated
- Kidney Stones and Calcium
- What Are Risk Factors for Diabetic Kidney Disease?
- Does Kidney Transplant or Chronic Dialysis Offer Longer Survival?
- Side Effects of Zyloprim (Allopurinol) for Kidney Damage Prevention
- How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed?
- Kidney Stone Causes
- Lacerated Kidney Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery Time
- What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Kidney Stones?
- Kidney Stone Treatment
- Blood Pressure Elevation Established as Risk for Kidney Failure
Medications & Supplements
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.