potassium chloride

Pronunciation

Generic Name: potassium chloride (poe TASS ee um)
Brand Name: EPIKLOR, EPIKLOR/25, K-Dur 10, K-Lor, K-Tab, Kal Potassium 99, Kaochlor S-F, Kaon-CL 10, Kaon-CL 20%, Kay Ciel, KCl-20, Klor-Con, Klor-Con 10, Klor-Con 8, Klor-Con M10, Klor-Con M15, Klor-Con M20, Klor-Con/25, Micro-K, Micro-K 10, Rum-K, ...show all 41 brand names

What is potassium chloride?

Potassium is a mineral that is found in many foods and is needed for several functions of your body, especially the beating of your heart.

Potassium chloride is used to prevent or to treat low blood levels of potassium (hypokalemia). Potassium levels can be low as a result of a disease or from taking certain medicines, or after a prolonged illness with diarrhea or vomiting.

Potassium chloride may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about potassium chloride?

You should not use this medication if you have kidney failure, Addison's disease, severe burns or other tissue injury, if you are dehydrated, if you take certain diuretics (water pills), or if you have high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia).

Do not crush, chew, break, or suck on an extended-release tablet or capsule. Swallow the pill whole. Breaking or crushing the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time. Sucking on a potassium tablet can irritate your mouth or throat.

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Take this medication with food or just after a meal.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood may need to be tested often. Your heart rate may also be checked using an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG) to measure electrical activity of the heart. This test will help your doctor determine how long to treat you with potassium. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.

Serious side effects of potassium include uneven heartbeat, muscle weakness or limp feeling, severe stomach pain, and numbness or tingling in your hands, feet, or mouth.

Do not stop taking this medication without first talking to your doctor. If you stop taking potassium suddenly, your condition may become worse.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking potassium chloride?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to it, or if you have certain conditions. Be sure your doctor knows if you have:

  • high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia);

  • kidney failure;

  • Addison's disease (an adrenal gland disorder);

  • a large tissue injury such as a severe burn;

  • if you are severely dehydrated; or

  • if you are taking a "potassium-sparing" diuretic (water pill) such as amiloride (Midamor, Moduretic), spironolactone (Aldactone, Aldactazide), triamterene (Dyrenium, Dyazide, Maxzide).

To make sure you can safely take potassium chloride, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • kidney disease;

  • heart disease or high blood pressure;

  • a blockage in your stomach or intestines; or

  • chronic diarrhea (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease).

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether potassium chloride will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether potassium chloride passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take potassium chloride?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Mix the powder, granule, or liquid form of this medicine with at least 4 ounces (one-half cup) of cold water or fruit juice before taking. Drink the mixture slowly, over 5 to 10 minutes in all. To make sure you get the entire dose, add a little more water to the same glass, swirl gently and drink right away.

Do not crush, chew, break, or suck on an extended-release tablet or capsule. Swallow the pill whole. Breaking or crushing the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time. Sucking on a potassium tablet can irritate your mouth or throat.

Take this medication with food or just after a meal.

Your treatment may include a special diet. It is very important to follow the diet plan created for you by your doctor or nutrition counselor. You should become very familiar with the list of foods you should eat or avoid to help control your condition.

Potassium-rich foods include: squash, baked potatoes (skin on), spinach, lentils, broccoli, brussels sprouts, zucchini, kidney or navy beans, raisins, watermelon, orange juice, bananas, cantaloupe, and low-fat milk or yogurt. Consume only the daily amounts recommended by your doctor or nutrition counselor.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood may need to be tested often. Your heart rate may also be checked using an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG) to measure electrical activity of the heart. This test will help your doctor determine how long to treat you with potassium. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.

Do not stop taking this medication without first talking to your doctor. If you stop taking potassium suddenly, your condition may become worse.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the medication in a closed container.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include heavy feeling in your arms or legs, confusion, weak or shallow breathing, slow or uneven heartbeat, seizure (convulsions), or feeling like you might pass out.

What should I avoid while taking potassium chloride?

Avoid taking potassium supplements or using other products that contain potassium without first asking your doctor. Salt substitutes or low-salt dietary products often contain potassium. If you take certain products together you may accidentally get too much potassium. Read the label of any other medicine you are using to see if it contains potassium.

Potassium chloride side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • confusion, anxiety, feeling like you might pass out;

  • uneven heartbeat;

  • extreme thirst, increased urination;

  • leg discomfort;

  • muscle weakness or limp feeling;

  • numbness or tingly feeling in your hands or feet, or around your mouth;

  • severe stomach pain, ongoing diarrhea or vomiting;

  • black, bloody, or tarry stools; or

  • coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild nausea or upset stomach;

  • mild or occasional diarrhea;

  • slight tingling in your hands or feet; or

  • appearance of a potassium chloride tablet in your stool.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Potassium chloride dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Hypokalemia:

Parenteral:
40 to 100 mEq potassium chloride for injection diluted in an appropriate amount and type of solution to be intravenously infused once at a rate not to exceed 10 to 40 mEq/hour.

Oral:
40 to 100 mEq orally once a day given in equally divided doses using formulations which include normal-release tablets or capsules, extended-release tablets or capsules, dissolvable tablets, oral solution or powder for dissolution mixed with an appropriate volume of water or juice.

Usual Adult Dose for Prevention of Hypokalemia:

Parenteral:
10 to 40 mEq potassium chloride for injection diluted in an appropriate amount and type of solution to be intravenously infused once at a rate not to exceed 40 mEq/hour.

Oral:
10 to 20 mEq orally once a day given in equally divided doses using formulations which include normal-release tablets or capsules, extended-release tablets or capsules, dissolvable tablets, oral solution or powder for dissolution mixed with an appropriate volume of water or juice.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Hypokalemia:

Treatment of hypokalemia: Note: High variability exists in dosing/infusion rate recommendations; therapy should be guided by patient condition and specific institutional guidelines.

Infants and Children:

Oral: 2 to 5 mEq/kg/day in divided doses; not to exceed 1 to 2 mEq/kg as a single dose; if deficits are severe or ongoing losses are great, IV route should be considered preferred route of administration.

Intermittent IV infusion (must be diluted prior to administration): 0.5 to 1 mEq/kg/dose (maximum dose: 40 mEq) to infuse at 0.3 to 0.5 mEq/kg/hour (maximum dose/rate: 1 mEq/kg/hour); then repeated as needed based on frequently obtained lab values; severe depletion or ongoing losses may require more than 200% of normal daily limit needs.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Prevention of Hypokalemia:

IV doses in children should be incorporated into the maintenance IV fluids. Intermittent IV potassium administration should be reserved for severe depletion situations. Continuous ECG monitoring should be used for intermittent doses greater than 0.5 mEq/kg/hour.

Normal daily requirements: Oral or IV:
Infants: 2 to 6 mEq/kg/day
Children: 2 to 3 mEq/kg/day

Prevention of hypokalemia during diuretic therapy:
Infants and Children: 1 to 2 mEq/kg/day orally in 1 to 2 divided doses

What other drugs will affect potassium chloride?

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • eplerenone (Inspra);

  • digoxin (digitalis, Lanoxin);

  • quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex, Quin-Release);

  • a bronchodilator such as ipratroprium (Atrovent) or tiotropium (Spiriva);

  • an ACE inhibitor such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), fosinopril (Monopril), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace), or trandolapril (Mavik); or

  • any type of diuretic (water pill) such as bumetanide (Bumex), chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Hygroton, Thalitone), ethacrynic acid (Edecrin), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Hyzaar, Lopressor, Vasoretic, Zestoretic), indapamide (Lozol), metolazone (Mykrox, Zarxolyn), or torsemide (Demadex).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with potassium chloride. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about potassium chloride.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 9.01. Revision Date: 2011-08-04, 2:15:30 PM.

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