Potassium is essential for the proper functioning of the heart, kidneys, muscles, nerves, and digestive system. Usually, the food you eat supplies all of the potassium you need. However, certain diseases (e.g., kidney disease and gastrointestinal disease with vomiting and diarrhea) and drugs, especially diuretics (‘water pills’), remove potassium from the body. Potassium supplements are taken to replace potassium losses and prevent potassium deficiency.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Side Effects Of Potassium
Potassium may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- upset stomach
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- mental confusion
- tingling, prickling, burning, tight, or pulling sensation of arms, hands, legs, or feet
- heaviness or weakness of legs
- cold, pale, gray skin
- stomach pain
- unusual stomach bulging
- black stools
Warnings & Precautions
Before taking potassium,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to potassium or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril); diuretics (‘water pills’); and vitamins. Do not take potassium if you are taking amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone), or triamterene (Dyrenium).
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had heart, kidney, or Addison’s (adrenal gland) disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking potassium, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking potassium.
Potassium comes in oral liquid, powder, granules, effervescent tablets, regular tablets, extended-release (long-acting) tablets, and extended-release capsules. It usually is taken two to four times a day, with or immediately after meals. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take potassium exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Take all forms of potassium with a full glass of water or fruit juice.
Add the liquid to water. Dissolve the powder, granules, or effervescent tablets in cold water or fruit juice according to the manufacturer’s directions or the directions on your prescription label; mix the drug well just before you take it. Cold liquids help mask the unpleasant taste.
Swallow extended-release tablets and capsules whole. Do not chew them or dissolve them in your mouth.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to potassium. You may have electrocardiograms (EKGs) and blood tests to see if your dose needs to be changed.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.