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Potassium bicarbonate

Generic Name: potassium bicarbonate (poe-TAS-ee-um bi-CAR-bon-ate)
Brand Name: Quick-K

Potassium bicarbonate is used for:

Preventing or treating low blood potassium levels when the amount of potassium in the diet is inadequate. It may also be used to treat low potassium levels caused by some diseases, severe or prolonged episodes of vomiting or diarrhea, certain medicines (eg, corticosteroids, diuretics), surgery, or other conditions. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Potassium bicarbonate is an electrolyte. It works by providing potassium when you have low levels of potassium in your blood.

Do NOT use potassium bicarbonate if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in potassium bicarbonate
  • you have elevated blood potassium, elevated blood acid, severe kidney problems, dehydration, heat cramps, an extensive tissue injury (eg, severe burns), or untreated adrenal gland failure (Addison disease)
  • you have a blockage of the esophagus, stomach, or intestines
  • you are taking an aldosterone blocker (eg, eplerenone) or a potassium sparing diuretic (eg, spironolactone, triamterene)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using potassium bicarbonate:

Some medical conditions may interact with potassium bicarbonate. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have kidney problems, muscle weakness or paralysis, potassium excretion problems, diabetes, heart problems (eg, irregular heartbeat, mitral valve replacement), esophagus problems, high blood pressure, diarrhea, adrenal gland problems, or scleroderma
  • if you are confined to a bed or chair

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with potassium bicarbonate. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Aldosterone blockers (eg, eplerenone), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (eg, lisinopril), or potassium-sparing diuretics (eg, spironolactone, triamterene) because high blood potassium levels may occur and cause listlessness, confusion, abnormal skin sensations of the arms and legs, heaviness of limbs, slowed or irregular heartbeat, or stopping of the heart
  • Digoxin because the risk of its side effects may be increased by potassium bicarbonate

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if potassium bicarbonate may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use potassium bicarbonate:

Use potassium bicarbonate as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take potassium bicarbonate with food or after a meal to prevent stomach upset.
  • Take potassium bicarbonate with a full glass of water (8 oz/240 mL). Do not lie down for 30 minutes after taking potassium bicarbonate.
  • Swallow potassium bicarbonate whole. Do not break, crush, or chew before swallowing.
  • If you miss a dose of potassium bicarbonate, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use potassium bicarbonate.

Important safety information:

  • Do not use a salt substitute or a potassium supplement without checking with your doctor.
  • LAB TESTS, including blood potassium and electrocardiogram (ECG), may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Potassium bicarbonate is not recommended for use in CHILDREN. Safety and effectiveness have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using potassium bicarbonate during pregnancy. Potassium bicarbonate is excreted into breast milk. Do not breast-feed while you are taking potassium bicarbonate.

Possible side effects of potassium bicarbonate:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Diarrhea; gas; nausea; stomach discomfort; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black, tarry stools; chest pain; irregular heartbeat; listlessness; numbness or tingling in your skin, lips, hands, or feet; severe nausea or vomiting; stomach pain; unusual confusion or anxiety; unusual muscle weakness or paralysis; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; weak or heavy legs.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include abnormal skin sensations of the arms and legs; bloody stools; confusion; heaviness of limbs; listlessness; slow or irregular heartbeat; slowed breathing rate; stopping of the heart.

Proper storage of potassium bicarbonate:

Store potassium bicarbonate at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep potassium bicarbonate out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about potassium bicarbonate, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Potassium bicarbonate is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take potassium bicarbonate or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about potassium bicarbonate. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to potassium bicarbonate. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using potassium bicarbonate.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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