What is the most important information I should know about potassium chloride?
You should not use this medicine if you have high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia), or if you also take a "potassium-sparing" diuretic.
What is potassium chloride?
Potassium is a mineral that 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 should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking potassium chloride?
You should not use potassium chloride if you are allergic to it, or if:
- you have high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia); or
- you take a "potassium-sparing" diuretic (water pill) such as amiloride, spironolactone, or triamterene.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- heart problems;
- high blood pressure;
- liver or kidney disease;
- a large tissue injury such as a severe burn;
- an electrolyte imbalance (such as low levels of calcium or magnesium in your blood);
- trouble swallowing;
- slow digestion;
- stomach bleeding, an ulcer, or a blockage in your stomach or intestines;
- an adrenal gland disorder;
- diabetes; or
- severe dehydration.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How should I take potassium chloride?
Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.
Potassium chloride oral is taken by mouth. Potassium chloride injection is given as a slow infusion into a vein.
A healthcare provider will give you this medicine by injection if you have severely low potassium levels. Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when potassium chloride is injected.
Take oral potassium chloride with food if the medicine upsets your stomach.
Always follow directions on the medicine label about giving this medicine to a child.
Take the tablet or capsule with a full glass of water.
Do not crush, chew, or suck on a potassium tablet or capsule. Sucking on the pill could irritate your mouth or throat.
Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon). Mix the oral solution with least 4 ounces of water before taking it.
You may need to follow a special diet while using potassium chloride. Follow all instructions of your doctor or dietitian. Learn about the foods to eat or avoid to help control your condition.
Call your doctor if you have trouble swallowing a potassium chloride capsule or tablet. You may be able to dissolve the tablet in water, or mix the medicine from a capsule with soft food. Carefully follow your doctor's instructions.
You may need frequent medical tests. Your heart function may need to be checked using an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG). Even if you have no symptoms, tests can help your doctor determine if this medicine is effective.
Some tablets are made with a shell that is not absorbed or melted in the body. Part of this shell may appear in your stool. This is normal and will not make the medicine less effective.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep the medication in a closed container.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include stomach pain, vomiting, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, muscle weakness, loss of movement, numbness or tingling, or feeling light-headed.
What should I avoid while taking potassium chloride?
Do not use potassium supplements or other products that contain potassium, unless your doctor has told you to. Salt substitutes or low-salt foods often contain potassium. Read the label of any food or medicine to see if it contains potassium.
What are the possible side effects of potassium chloride?
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using potassium chloride and call your doctor at once if you have:
- severe throat irritation;
- chest pain, trouble breathing;
- pain, burning, bruising, swelling, irritation, or skin changes where the medicine was injected;
- stomach bloating, severe vomiting, severe stomach pain;
high potassium level --nausea, weakness, tingly feeling, chest pain, irregular heartbeats, loss of movement; or
signs of stomach bleeding --bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
Common side effects may include:
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
- gas, stomach pain; or
- the 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.
What other drugs will affect potassium chloride?
Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:
- medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection;
- a diuretic or "water pill"; or
- heart or blood pressure medication.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect potassium chloride, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.
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.
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