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Potassium

What is potassium chloride

Potassium is a mineral that is found naturally in foods and is necessary for many normal functions of the body, especially beating of the heart.

Potassium chloride is used to prevent or to treat a potassium deficiency.

Potassium chloride may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

General medical information about potassium chloride

Take each dose with a full glass of water.

Take potassium chloride with food or milk to lessen stomach upset.

Do not crush, chew, or break the tablets or capsules. Swallow them whole. They are specially formulated to release medicine slowly in the body. If you have problems swallowing, ask your doctor about other forms of potassium.

Mix the liquid with at least 4 ounces (one-half cup) of water or juice. Mix it thoroughly and drink it immediately. Do not drink the liquid without diluting it first.

Do not use a salt substitute while taking potassium chloride without first talking to your doctor. Salt substitutes may contain potassium. You may get too much potassium and experience side effects if you use these products.

What you should find out before taking potassium chloride

Before taking potassium chloride, tell your doctor if you
- have kidney disease;
- are taking a potassium-sparing diuretic such as triamterene (Dyrenium, Dyazide, Maxzide), spironolactone (Aldactone, Aldactazide), or amiloride (Midamor, Moduretic);
- have Addison's disease;
- have an ulcer or an intestinal blockage; or
- have chronic diarrhea.

You may not be able to take potassium chloride, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Potassium chloride is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known whether potassium chloride will be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether potassium passes into breast milk. Do not take potassium chloride without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should take potassium chloride

Take potassium chloride exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

Take each dose with a full glass of water.

Take potassium chloride with food or milk to lessen stomach upset.

Mix the powder or liquid with at least 4 ounces (one-half cup) of water or juice. Mix it thoroughly and drink it immediately. Do not drink the liquid without diluting it first.

Do not crush, chew, or break the tablets or capsules. Swallow them whole. They are specially formulated to release medicine slowly in the body. If you have problems swallowing, ask your doctor about other forms of potassium.

Do not worry if you find a wax capsule in the stool. The capsule is formulated to be passed out in the stool, but the drug has been absorbed by the body.

It is important to take potassium chloride regularly to get the most benefit.

Your doctor may want you to have blood tests or other medical evaluations during treatment with potassium chloride to monitor progress and side effects.

Store potassium chloride at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

If you miss a dose:

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take only the next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take a double dose of this medication.

What happens if you overdose:

Seek emergency medical attention if an overdose is suspected.

Symptoms of a potassium chloride overdose may include paralysis; numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, legs, or feet; an irregular heartbeat; low blood pressure (dizziness, confusion, weakness, fatigue); seizures; coma; and heart attack.

Avoid while taking potassium chloride

Do not use a salt substitute while taking potassium chloride without first talking to your doctor. Salt substitutes may contain potassium. You may get too much potassium and experience side effects if you use these products.

Possible side effects of potassium chloride

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking potassium chloride and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:
- an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
- confusion;
- an irregular heartbeat;
- difficulty breathing;
- unusual fatigue, weakness, or heavy legs;
- abdominal pain or severe cramping;
- black, bloody, or tarry stools.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take potassium chloride and talk to your doctor if you experience
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal discomfort;
- a rash;
- slight tingling in the hands or feet; or
- anxiety.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect potassium chloride

Before taking potassium chloride, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:
- an angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor (ACE inhibitor) such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil), moexipril (Univasc), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace), and others;
- a potassium-sparing diuretic such as triamterene (Dyrenium, Dyazide, Maxzide), spironolactone (Aldactone, Aldactazide), and amiloride (Midamor, Moduretic);
- a beta-blocker such as atenolol (Tenormin), propranolol (Inderal), acebutolol (Sectral), bisoprolol (Zebeta), carteolol (Cartrol), labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate), nadolol (Corgard), metoprolol (Lopressor), pindolol (Visken), and others; and
- digoxin (Lanoxin);
- a diuretic (water pill) such as hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril, HCTZ, others), chlorothiazide (Diuril, others), metolazone (Zaroxolyn), indapamide (Lozol), and others;
- a steroid such as prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone, others), cortisone (Cortone), hydrocortisone (Cortef, Hydrocortone, others), or dexamethasone (Decadron, Hexadrol); or
- an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, others), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), or ketoprofen (Orudis KT, Orudis, Oruvail).

You may not be able to take potassium chloride, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with potassium chloride or affect your condition. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.

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