- What are oral potassium supplements, and how do they work (mechanism of action)?
- What is potassium chloride used for?
- What are the side effects of oral potassium supplements?
- What is the dosage for oral potassium supplements?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with oral potassium supplements?
- Are oral potassium supplements safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about oral potassium supplements?
What are oral potassium supplements, and how do they 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:
What brand names are available for oral potassium supplements?
Are oral potassium supplements available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for oral potassium supplements?
What is potassium chloride used for?
What are the side effects of oral potassium supplements?
Common reactions to potassium are primarily gastrointestinal and include:
More important side effects include:
- high blood potassium levels,
- 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 oral potassium supplements?
- 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.
Which drugs or supplements interact with oral potassium supplements?
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.
Are oral potassium supplements safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
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.
What else should I know about oral potassium supplements?
What preparations of oral potassium supplements 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 oral potassium supplements stored?
Potassium should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
Latest Health News
- Freezing Eggs Doesn't Make Future Pregnancy a Done Deal
- Use of Frozen Embryos Tied to Higher Odds for Dangerous Complication of Pregnancy
- Genetics May Explain Rare Heart Inflammation in Some Young People
- Pfizer, Moderna Seek Approval of New COVID Boosters for Kids
- U.S. Prisoners Face Higher Odds of Dying From Cancer
- More Health News »
Potassium chloride (KLor Con, K-Tab, Kaon CL, Klorvess, Slow-K, Ten-K, Klotrix, K-Lyte CL) is a supplement used to treat low blood levels of potassium, a condition called hypokalemia. Learn about the side effects, dosage, and pregnancy safety information for potassium chloride.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Related Disease Conditions
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include: ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease. ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure cap: Capsule. CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea. DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis. DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes HA: Headache IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis JT: Joint N/V: Nausea or vomiting. p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os. q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily. RA: Rheumatoid arthritis SOB: Shortness of breath. T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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).
Treatment & Diagnosis
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.
FDA Prescribing Information.