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.
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.
If you are using a salt substitute, tell your doctor. Many salt substitutes contain potassium. Your doctor will consider this source in determining your dose of potassium supplement. Your doctor may advise you to use a potassium-containing salt substitute and to eat potassium-rich foods (e.g., bananas, prunes, raisins, and milk).
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it and take any remaining doses for that day at evenly spaced intervals. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
tingling, prickling, burning, tight, or pulling sensation of arms, hands, legs, or feet
heaviness or weakness of legs
cold, pale, gray skin
unusual stomach bulging
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
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.
Last Reviewed - 09/01/2010
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2013. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.