Know the basics
What is potassium chloride used for?
This medication is a mineral supplement used to treat or prevent low amounts of potassium in the blood. A normal level of potassium in the blood is important. Potassium helps your cells, kidneys, heart, muscles, and nerves work properly. Most people get enough potassium by eating a well-balanced diet. Some conditions that can lower your body’s potassium level include severe prolonged diarrhea and vomiting, hormone problems such as hyperaldosteronism, or treatment with “water pills”/diuretics.
How should I take potassium chloride?
Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor. To prevent stomach upset, take each dose with a meal and a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters) unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Do not lie down for 10 minutes after taking this medication.
Do not crush, chew, or suck extended-release capsules or tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split extended-release tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.
Swallow the capsules whole. If you have trouble swallowing the capsules, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Some brands may be opened and the contents sprinkled onto a spoonful of cool, soft food such as applesauce or pudding. Immediately swallow the food/medication mixture without chewing. Do not prepare the mixture ahead of time. Drink a glass of cool water after each dose to make sure you swallow all the medication. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about your brand.
Take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or take it more often than prescribed. Do not take more than 20 milliequivalents per dose.
Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if you have symptoms of low potassium in the blood (such as irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness/cramps).
How do I store potassium chloride?
Potassium chloride is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store potassium chloride in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of potassium chloride that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.
You should not flush potassium chloride down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.
Know the precautions & warnings
What should I know before using potassium chloride?
Before taking potassium, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: heart problems, kidney problems, high levels of potassium in the blood.
Due to rare reports of stomach/intestinal ulcers and bleeding with sustained-release potassium products, taking a liquid form of potassium is preferred. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have throat/stomach/intestinal problems such as blockage, narrowing, or ulcers.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Before using other potassium supplements or salt substitutes that contain potassium, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Too much potassium may cause serious side effects. (See also Overdose section.)
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Is it safe to take potassium chloride during pregnancy or breast-feeding?
There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.
Know the side effects
What are the side effects of potassium chloride?
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.
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Know the interactions
What drugs may interact with potassium chloride?
Potassium chloride may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.
Interaction with Potassium-Sparing Diuretics
Hypokalemia should not be treated by the concomitant administration of potassium salts and a potassium-sparing diuretic, e.g., spironolactone, triamterene, or amiloride, since the simultaneous administration of these agents can produce severe hyperkalemia.
Interaction with Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (e.g., captopril, enalapril) will produce some potassium retention by inhibiting aldosterone production. Potassium supplements should be given to patients receiving ACE inhibitors only with close monitoring.
Does food or alcohol interact with potassium chloride?
Potassium chloride may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.
What health conditions may interact with potassium chloride?
Potassium chloride may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially heart problems, kidney problems, high levels of potassium in the blood.
Understand the dosage
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.
What is the dose of potassium chloride for an adult?
Usual Adult Dose for Hypokalemia
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.
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
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.
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.
What is the dose of potassium chloride for a child?
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
How is potassium chloride available?
Potassium chloride is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:
K-LOR 20 mEq (Potassium Chloride for Oral Solution, USP) is supplied in cartons of 30 packets and in cartons of 100 packets (NDC 0074-3611-02). Each packet contains potassium, 20 mEq, and chloride, 20 mEq, provided by potassium chloride, 1.5 g.
What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?
In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of Potassium chloride, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Potassium chloride. https://www.drugs.com/potassium_chloride.html. Accessed July 14, 2016.
What is Potassium chloride? http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/potassium-chloride. Accessed July 14, 2016.
Potassium chloride. http://www.medicinenet.com/potassium_chloride/article.htm. Accessed July 14, 2016.