Potassium is an essential mineral for your body to function normally. At the optimal level, this mineral can help muscles and nerves converse with their counterparts. They also transfer key nutrients to where they are needed, and remove waste from cells. Above all, this mineral plays an active role in your cardiac wellbeing. A few medical conditions – mainly, renal disorders such as chronic kidney diseases (CKD) can alter the availability of potassium in your blood. In most cases, renal dysfunction leads to a marked increase in the availability of potassium. In this milieu, what are uses, precautions as well as side effects of potassium citrate? You may need to know more prior to using this med.

Maintenance of needful levels of potassium is necessary for your overall wellbeing. High or low levels of this mineral can trigger heart problems or cardiac dysfunction. Apart from cardiac health, this mineral holds the key to better functioning of your renal system, muscular function as well as your central nervous system. Your dietitian may recommend a well-rounded and balanced diet program to ensure adequate availability of this essential mineral. Those who live with chronic episodes of watery stools / diarrhea, persistent spells of vomiting, etc. may need to take added precautions as they run the risk of losing this mineral in vast quantities.

How to safely use potassium citrate?

This drug is administered for restoring the right balance of potassium in your body. This drug works as a supplement by maintaining the needful level of this mineral. It is prescribed mostly to people living with a low level of potassium. It is also prescribed for people needing treatment for kidney stone formation. While using it for the latter purpose, you need to inform the caregiving team of pre-existing conditions such as high levels of potassium in bloodstream (also known as hyperkalemia), possible signs of kidney problems (common symptoms are change in urinary output and / or pain experienced while urinating), infections in your kidneys, if any as well as high blood sugar (or being diabetic), etc. Also, those with stomach ulcers / peptic ulcers, internal bruising and bleeding may also need to keep their caregiver aware of such problems.

This med is not an over the counter drug. Hence, its use always needs to be under the clinical supervision and care of a qualified medical practitioner. No two people living with kidney stones or a low level of potassium in their blood are prescribed with the same treatment plan. Your dosage strength of potassium citrate depends on a host of factors such as: your age, body weight, gender, severity of the clinical condition as well as based on how your body takes / responds to the first few doses of this medication.

Diet-aspects linked to the intake of potassium citrate

Talk to your dietitian to know more details about foods that are to be avoided. In all likelihood, your diet consultant will recommend a diet which is low on sodium content. You may hence need to ensure foods you take all through the treatment plan are either salt-free or low on salts. It may hence be an unsafe practice to take foods that are highly processed – for example, food products such as patties, wafers, chips, etc. may do more harm than good. In general, stay aware of foods that may have rich amounts of salt or sodium in them.

How to take this med?

Your doctor may tell you to take this drug along with food. Those who have not taken with a meal may take this med within half hour of their meal time. In most cases, a qualified dietitian may help build a specific diet plan to suit your health condition as well as the medication / treatment plan. Caveat: it is essential to be clear about foods you cannot take and those you can consume. Your dietitian may also inform you to take needful amounts of water each day. Not taking needful level of water can trigger stone formation in kidneys as well as risks of dehydration. How to tell if you are dehydrated? You can tell it with relative ease through the signs, such as persistent spells of thirst, drying of skin, itchiness, a foul smell in the mouth, parching of lips and other oral parts such as tongue and / or throat.

Needful precautions while taking this med

Your caregiving team will inform you to take a few precautions while consuming this medicine. Most common among such safety measures includes prescription of periodic lab tests based on samples of blood and urine. These tests help detect mineral imbalances or other suboptimal conditions. As an associated safety measure, your caregiver may recommend you to regularly check your cardiac health. Owing to this, electrocardiogram (ECG) and / or EKG are recommended on a regular basis.

Moreover, it is essential to have your physician updated of all types of medication plans you are currently taking. It is a wise thing to compile a list of all drugs you are consuming now. As you make this listing, care to include over the counter (OTC) drugs, prescription medications, supplements of proteins, minerals such as iron and / or vitamins, dietary supplements, etc. If you are planning to take a shot of a vaccine, your caregiver must be made aware of such a shot. After sharing the list of current medication plans, do not attempt to change any meds without the knowledge of your caregiving team.

In this light, tell your doctors about intake of potassium-sparing meds, water pills or diuretics. As these drugs may severely alter the mineral or electrolyte balance of your body, stay away from such drugs or take them only after having the consent of your caregiving team. Last but not least, never perform too much of workouts or long sessions of sweaty exercises.

Side effects potassium citrate may trigger

This drug is likely to cause a few side effects and undesired reactions. Commonly experienced side effects are formation of gas, flatulence, bloating, other abdominal conditions like nausea, pain in your stomach, vomiting as well as indigestion / dyspepsia. However, if this drug features in your medication plan, it is mainly due to your caregiver’s decision; this decision is taken after weighing the pros and cons of using this drug. Treating doctors decide to prescribe this drug when its benefits far outweigh the risks of undesired side effects or adverse reactions.

In some cases, a few serious side effects like swallowing difficulties, discharge of dark colored stools, incessant vomiting, etc. may show up. If you witness one or more of these severe side effects, it is a safe practice to reach out to your caregiving team without much delay. In some remote instances, this drug may trigger a few allergic reactions; these include skin conditions like itchiness, rashes, inflammation or swelling of skin, hives or discoloration of skin. Upon sensing any of these aforesaid signs, it is a safe practice to rush to a healthcare setting operating closer to where you live.

The above list of side effects does not form a complete list; hence, it is quite likely to experience a few unknown side effects or unlisted, adverse reactions. For instance, if you have taken an overdose or a double dose of potassium citrate, you may experience swelling of oral parts, breathing difficulties, erratic heartbeats as well as loss of coordination or passing out. Upon seeing any of these reactions, call 911 immediately. A delay in seeking emergency medical help can lead to near-fatal or fatal outcomes. As an alternative, you may also reach out to the emergency helplines of the food and drug administration in the US. This drug clearance authority has its own emergency helplines; these can be reached out to by users who witness undesired side effects or allergies upon using any of the drugs FDA has approved / cleared. Those who are living in any of the Canadian provinces are advised to reach out to Health Canada on an urgent mode, or call / rush to a poison control center operating nearer to your home.

Last but by no means the least, people who have had a recent cardiac failure or a heart attack as well as those with an excessive level of acids (i.e., acidosis) must talk to their doctor of such prior conditions. As an extended measure of safety, if you have ulcers or colitis, then you may be advised not to take this med. In general, this drug is never given to younger users – especially those aged less than 18 years or to children as well as teens. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding a newly born baby women must consult with their doctor; in most cases, this drug is not prescribed during pregnancy or while you are breastfeeding.

In sum, potassium citrate is used to maintain a proper balance of potassium in blood, which is mostly prescribed for people with a low level of such minerals. As an additional use, it is also taken for treating kidney stones. This drug is not an OTC med. Its use needs to be as per the directions of a qualified doctor. Your medication plan may depend on weight, age, how severe is your potassium deficiency or conditions like kidney stone formation, etc. This med may trigger some undesired side effects. Common among them are flatulence, nausea, stomach pain, indigestion and vomiting. In order to know more on the safety precautions as well as side effects of this drug, it is highly recommended to talk to your treating doctor and / or pharmacist.

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