An optimal level of potassium is a prerequisite to your overall health and wellbeing. An over-optimal or a suboptimal supply of this essential mineral can cause a few health conditions; a few serious conditions such as cardiac problems or a few heart-related ailments may show up. This mineral is known to regulate blood pressure levels, rate of heartbeats as well as transfer of energy at the cellular level. It is also responsible for the efficient working of your kidneys as well as muscles. Drugs such as potassium citrate are widely used as supplements. But, can this supplement trigger a few gastric conditions – say, problems such as gastric esophageal reflux disease / disorder (GERD)? It is essential to know more on this prior to starting your medication plan.

Potassium is an important mineral your body needs for normal functioning. This mineral is responsible for many bodily functions namely, effective transmission of signals to / from your central nervous system (CNS), better control of your cardiac function by regulating blood pressure, etc. This mineral is also a major contributor to how well your body disposes off waste as well as cell-level provision of energy / nutrients.

The daily requirement of potassium fares at ~ 4,500 milligrams (in short, mg). However, a few adults (males and females alike) can lead a normal life if this mineral is supplied at doses of 2,200 mg within a 24-hour timeline. Deficiency of this mineral is a rare condition among humans; this is mainly because you can source it from food items such as legumes, vegetables as well as fruits. A few seeds also contain sizeable amount of this mineral. However, those using water pills (also known as diuretics) may need to check with their caregiving team as they may lose a substantial amount of this essential mineral. Also, those living with chronic spells of diarrhea or vomiting may also find themselves having a deficiency of it; this is mainly due to the loss of electrolytes owing to an incessant discharge of fluids from your body.

What is potassium citrate?

This supplement is taken for the restoration of an optimal level of potassium in your system. Doctors administer this drug if you witness a marked depletion of this mineral. As an extended use, this drug is also given to those living with stones in their kidneys. While taking it to treat stones, those living with conditions such as hyperkalemia are advised to tell their doctor of prior ailments. Hyperkalemia leaves a larger (than what is needed) residue of potassium in your body. Hence, intake of potassium citrate may only worsen your condition, making you to grapple with an abundant level of potassium.

Moreover, those living with symptoms of renal dysfunction or other kidney related problems must keep their caregiving team informed of such prior conditions. The typical signs of a renal damage / dysfunction are changes in output of urine, painful episodes of urination as well as discoloration of urine. It is important to remember that this drug is not an over the counter (OTC) med. It is always used as per instructions and advice of a qualified medical specialist.

Can potassium citrate cause gastric problems?

Like many meds, this drug may trigger a few undesired side effects and adverse reactions. A few typical discomforts – experienced upon taking this mineral supplement – is gas formation, bloating, abdominal discomforts such as pain in stomach, vomiting along with nausea; in some cases dyspepsia or indigestion may also show up. In such instances, you may notice watery discharge of stools.

It is important to take potassium supplements as per your dosage plan. An overdosed supply of potassium may lead to a few harmful side effects. These include an increase in the risks of GERD or heartburn. The reason behind this is: your gastric tract may produce extra amounts of acids when you take too much of potassium. The maximum dose must never breach the 4,500 mg limit; if you take doses in excess of 4,750 mg, you are very likely to witness severe side effects.

How to know if you have taken an excessive amount of potassium citrate?

A larger (than adequate) intake of potassium supplements may cause an irritation in the chest region and sometimes you may also experience a burn in your throat. These signs show up as acid (made in excessive levels) at your gastric tract starts climbing upward inside your food pipe i.e., esophagus. In such conditions, a valve at the end of the food pipe called lower esophageal sphincter (in short, LES) losing its elasticity. Once the LES is impaired, acids may have a free backward access into your food pipe. Weakened LES is common among aged people; hence, excessive intake of potassium supplements by aged people is more likely to lead to GERD or other acidic conditions in the abdominal region.

However, if this drug fares in your medication plan, it is mainly because of your caregiver’s treatment outlook; this decision is often taken considering the merits and demerits of consuming it. Your caregiving team will seldom prescribe this drug if the risks outweigh the benefits of taking this med.

As an extended precaution, if you are living with gastric conditions such as peptic ulcers or internal bruises, inform your treating physician of all such intestinal problems. Among such people, intake of potassium citrate can lead to discharge of darkened stools, nausea as well as indigestion. Upon witnessing any of these serious reactions, you are advised to consult with your treating doctor as quickly as possible.

In a few rare instances, intake of potassium supplements is known to cause some allergies. These may show up as skin problems – such as rashes, swelling, itchiness and hives. Among a small percentage of users, discoloration of skin has been observed. You also need to remember that the aforesaid list of discomforts does not constitute a full listing. Users have reported of a few unknown as well as unlisted side effects soon after taking potassium citrate. For example, a dual dose or an overdose of potassium citrate may trigger inflammation of facial organs as well as oral parts like gums, tongue or throat, respiratory troubles such as wheezing or panting for breath, etc. As a rare incidence, a small segment of users has witnessed abnormal heartbeats, passing out or a complete loss of coordination.

Upon seeing any of these reactions, call 911 immediately. A delay in taking urgent clinical support can result in fatal outcomes. As an alternative, you may also reach out to the emergency helplines of the FDA. This drug clearance agency runs its own emergency helpdesk. This desk offers timely support to users who encounter side effects or undesired allergies of the drugs FDA clears. Canadian residents can reach out to Health Canada or rush to / call a poison control center near your home.

Your dosage may differ from another individual who has a similar problem of potassium deficiency. Also, no two individuals living with a decreased level of potassium in blood are prescribed with the same dosage plan. Your medication plan of potassium citrate varies based on body weight, age, gender, severity of the medical condition i.e., deficiency of potassium and also on how well your system responds / reacts to the initial dosages.

What are the precautions associated with the intake of potassium citrate?

It is essential to take needful precautions before starting to take this drug. As a precautionary measure, you may be advised to opt for a few lab tests; most of these tests are done on samples of urine or blood. A panel of lab tests is often administered; these help gauge the level of mineral imbalance, especially, the presence of suboptimal levels of potassium. As a related precautionary measure, it is recommended to have your cardiac health condition checked on a regular basis. It is quite common for your caregiving team to advice procedures such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) on a periodic basis.

Potassium citrate may adversely interact with diuretics or water pills. Also, if you are taking any potassium-sparing meds, your doctor needs to know of all such drugs. It is important to update your doctor about medications you are presently consuming. As an added safety measure, keep your caregiving team updated of all your treatment plans that you are currently pursuing. As you make a list of medication and treatment plans, ensure to include over the counter (OTC) meds, prescription drugs, supplements of minerals, vitamin supplements, dietary aids, etc. Also, care to include herbal meds, if any – that may form part of your medication plans. If you are going to take a vaccine shot, your doctor must be updated of these shots. Last but not least, never make any alterations to the drugs in the list without telling your caregiver and / or pharmacist.

In sum, potassium citrate is taken as a supplementary medicine to treat short supply of potassium. As this drug can react adversely with a few drugs, tell your physician if your current medication plans include potassium-sparing drugs, diuretics or water pills. As most of these drugs can change the mineral make-up or presence of electrolytes in your body, take special care to keep your caregiver and / or pharmacist informed of all such drugs.

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