An optimal level of potassium is a key requirement to lead a healthy life. This mineral has a direct influence on how your heart functions and also on your cardiac wellbeing. Very little or too much supply of potassium can both lead to cardiac dysfunction, renal or kidney problems, muscular conditions and a few nervous disorders. It hence becomes essential to consume a well-balanced diet that has needful amount of potassium in it. The meds you already take and your gastric wellbeing can make you lose this mineral at a sizable level. Potassium supplements like potassium citrate and potassium gluconate are widely used to treat such deficiencies. In this milieu, what are the differences between potassium citrate and potassium gluconate? You may need to know more on these prior to using this med.

Potassium is a vital mineral your body needs for its normal functioning. If this mineral is present at an optimal level, it enables your nerves and muscles to have an effective conversation, thus paving the way for better coordination. Not stopping with nerve-level communications, potassium also helps nutrition to move from one cell to another; this mineral plays an effective role in the removal of waste at a cellular level. You are advised to stay mindful of conditions such as kidney problems or chronic renal dysfunction. Such conditions are known to severely impact the availability of potassium in the bloodstream.

What is potassium gluconate?

This supplement is used for managing low levels of potassium in your bloodstream. It is administered to people who are unable to get needful level of this mineral through their daily diet. A deficiency of potassium may occur when you are taking water pills or diuretics, and if you are down with incessant spells of vomiting or diarrhea. The absence of needful quantum of potassium can impair cellular activity and may cause cardiac dysfunction as well as muscular weakness.

Potassium gluconate is used for treating potassium deficiencies. In order to prevent possible gastric problems such as stomach upset, you are advised to take it along with a meal. Due to possible risks of abdominal discomforts, your doctor may closely monitor how your system responds to the first few dosages of this supplement. As a safety measure, never go to a sleeping position – for at least 30 minutes – after taking this med.

What is potassium citrate?

This drug is administered for restoring the right balance of potassium in your body. This drug works as a supplement is maintaining the needful level of mineral. It is prescribed mostly to people living with a low level of this mineral. It is also prescribed for people needing treatment for kidney stone formation.

While using it for 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.

What are the differences between potassium citrate and potassium gluconate?

The key difference in between these two supplements is: potassium gluconate is made of potassium and gluconic acid while potassium citrate is of potassium and citric acid. Both are available as over the counter formulations. Also, these two supplements can be used for treating deficiencies of potassium in blood; these are also used as additives to food for boosting potassium content in such foods. The uses of potassium citrate extend to treat acidosis in the renal system. This condition is known as renal tubular acidosis; this shows up when your renal system is unable to eliminate acids from your blood.

Another unique use of potassium citrate rests upon its ability to treat formation of stones in kidneys. Calcium oxalate stones are formed when your body has a reduced level of calcium. If you are not consuming ample amount of water, you are likely to develop such stones in kidneys. Oxalate in urine blends with calcium to take the shape of stones.

On the similarities front: these supplements are available in two distinctive forms namely, as a dry powder as well as a liquid form. Both these meds are known to taste salty. Moreover, both are similar in being odorless.


Safe intake of potassium based supplements

The treating physician may tell you to take these drugs along with a meal. Users who have not consumed this med with a meal can take it in less than half hour from their meal-time. It is a quite likely that your dietitian will tell you to take a special diet, which suits your health condition as well as the treatment plan. As a general rule, it is a good practice to consume needful amount of water every day. Not drinking adequate water may cause stone formation in the renal system and can trigger risks of dehydration. So, what are the typical signs of dehydration? The signs are often quite distinctive; these include being thirsty, dryness of skin, itchy sensation on skin and bad taste in mouth or a bad smell, parched lips, throat, etc.

Precautions needed while taking potassium supplements

Your treating physician will advise you to take a few safety measures prior to taking these potassium supplements. Salient safety measures include detection of imbalances and the progress made; inferred on a periodic basis. For doing this, your caregiver will prescribe a few lab tests which are done on samples of urine as well as blood. These lab tests also help understand suboptimal presence of essential minerals. Your doctor may also recommend periodical cardiac check-ups to know how well your heart is functioning. Hence, it is quite customary to opt for electrocardiogram on a regular basis, as per the instructions of your caregiving team.

As a related precautionary measure, it becomes important to share details about the medications you are taking now, and treatment plans that you are pursuing currently. In this realm, your doctor needs to have needful information on all the drugs you are presently taking. It is a good practice to make a list of all meds you are consuming; in this list, you must ensure to add meds such as over the counter (OTC) medications, prescription drugs, other supplements of minerals such as potassium, vitamin-fortified foods, protein supplements, herbal aids and other diet-based supplements, if any. Those who are likely to be administered a shot of vaccine must make their doctors and pharmacist know of such upcoming shot(s). Above all, once you have shared this list with your treating doctor, never try to make any changes to these medication plans i.e., without the consent of your treating doctor and pharmacist.

Some users may be taking medications such as diuretics (also known as water pills), potassium sparing drugs as well as drugs to treat kidney stones especially, calcium oxalate stones. Intake of either of these supplements – i.e., potassium gluconate or potassium citrate, can change the mineral balance as well as alter the presence of electrolytes in your body. Hence, stay away from such meds or consume them only after informing your caregiving team of such drugs. Your caregiver will make needful changes to the strength of these meds or may prescribe a few safer alternatives. In this vein, never engage in any sweat-producing activities or exercise sessions that may last for a long time; this precaution is needed to arrest / minimize the loss of essential minerals such as potassium.

Side effects these potassium supplements may trigger

These two potassium supplements are likely to trigger a few adverse side effects and unwanted reactions. Most common among adverse side effects are flatulence, bloating, gas formation, abdominal conditions such as pain in stomach, indigestion / dyspepsia, nausea often accompanied by vomiting. However, if any of these two supplements is featuring in your treatment plan(s), it is mainly because your caregiver has decided to pursue with such a plan. Such prescriptions are written only after thoroughly assessing the merits and demerits of using either of these drugs. In general, physicians decide to administer one of these potassium supplements only when the benefits clearly outstrip the odds of unwanted reactions or adverse side effects.

In very rare instances, serious reactions or acute side effects such as discharge of darkened stools, chronic spells of vomiting or nausea are likely to occur. If you experience one or more of these acute side effects, it is a good practice to call your caregiving team as quickly as possible. If you are also witnessing severe allergies – such as skin problems like rashes, swelling, hives or itchiness along with discoloration of skin, rush to a healthcare setting – a clinic or a hospital, which is closer to your home.

In sum, a salient difference between these two supplements i.e., potassium gluconate and potassium citrate is – the former is made of potassium added to gluconic acid, and the latter has potassium blended with citric acid. In some regions, either of these meds is sold as over the counter (OTC) drugs. However, it is a safe practice to take either of these supplements as per the instructions of a qualified medical practitioner.

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