Potassium chloride is taken to prevent low levels of potassium in the blood caused by certain medicines or illnesses. It is best taken with a snack or after a meal. Avoid salt substitutes.
Potassium chloride is a prescription medication used to treat and prevent low potassium levels due to poor dietary intake, certain diseases, or other drugs. Potassium chloride belongs to a group of drugs called electrolytes, which are compounds that help the body function normally.
This medication comes in tablet and capsule forms and may be taken multiple times a day with food and water.
This medication is also available in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein by a healthcare professional.
Common side effects of potassium chloride include nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort or pain, and diarrhea.
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K-8 Cautionary Labels
Uses of K-8
Potassium chloride is a prescription medication used to treat and prevent low potassium levels due to poor dietary intake, certain diseases, or other drugs.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
K-8 Drug Class
K-8 is part of the drug class:
Side Effects of K-8
Serious side effects have been reported with potassium chloride. See “Drug Precautions” section.
Common side effects of potassium chloride include:
- abdominal pain
This is not a complete list of potassium chloride side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:
- potassium-sparing diuretics such as amiloride (Midamor), triamterene (Dyrenium), and spironolactone (Aldactone)
- ACE inhibitors such as enalopril (Vasotec) and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
- vitamins containing potassium
This is not a complete list of potassium chloride drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Serious side effects have been reported with potassium chloride including:
- Hyperkalemia. Potassium chloride can lead to dangerously high levels of potassium, which could cause the heart to stop beating. Tell your doctor if you have a history of heart or kidney disease.
- Digestive tract injury. Potassium chloride can remain in the digestive system for too long, leading to injuries in the digestive tract (stomach, intestines). Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms of digestive tract injury:
- stomach pain
- swollen stomach
- dark or black stools
- Metabolic acidosis (too much acid in the body). Patients should be treated with a particular potassium salt such as potassium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, potassium acetate, or potassium gluconate. Use with potassium chloride is not recommended.
Do not take potassium chloride if you:
- have high potassium levels (hyperkalemia)
- have any physical, disease-related, or drug-related problems that would stop or slow the passage of this medication through the gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) tract
- have an enlargened heart that narrows the esophagus; a liquid form of this medication should be prescribed instead of the capsule or tablet
K-8 Food Interactions
Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of potassium chloride, salt substitutes containing potassium should be avoided.
Before taking potassium chloride, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:
- have a history of heart or kidney disease
- have an adrenal disease such as Addison’s disease
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
K-8 and Pregnancy
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.
Potassium chloride falls into category C. This medication may be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that its benefits to the pregnant woman outweigh any possible risks to her unborn baby.
It is not known if potassium chloride will harm your unborn baby.
K-8 and Lactation
Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.
The active ingredient in potassium chloride is excreted in human breast milk. The effect of potassium chloride on the nursing infant is not known.
Take potassium chloride exactly as prescribed.
- This medication comes in tablet and capsule forms and may be taken multiple times a day with food and water.
- Swallow capsules and tablets whole. Do not chew or crush contents of either the tablet or capsule.
- This medication is also available in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein by a healthcare professional.
- The liquid for injection form is to be used by your hospital physician.
- For patients who have difficulty swallowing tablets whole, the tablet may be broken in half.
- For patients who have difficulty swallowing capsules whole, its contents may be sprinkled into soft food followed by a glass of water or other liquid.
- If one cannot swallow a tablet, a capsule, or half a tablet, try the following alternate methods of administration:
- Prepare an aqueous (water) suspension as follows:
- Place the whole tablet or pour the capsule's contents in approximately one-half glass of water (4 fluid ounces).
- Allow approximately 2 minutes for the contents to dissolve.
- Stir for about half a minute after the contents have dissolved.
- Swirl the suspension and consume the entire suspension immediately by drinking or by the use of a straw.
- Add another one fluid ounce of water, swirl, and consume immediately.
- Then, add an additional one fluid ounce of water, swirl, and consume immediately.
- If not taken immediately, it should be discarded. The use of other liquids besides water for dissolving tablets or capsule contents is not recommended.
- Prepare an aqueous (water) suspension as follows:
If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of potassium chloride at the same time.
Take potassium chloride exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.
Dose amount is determined according to the individual needs of each patient:
- For the prevention of hypokalemia: typically in the range of 20 mEq per day
- For treatment of potassium depletion: typically in the range of 40-100 mEq per day or more
Dosage should be divided if more than 20 mEq per day. No more than 20 mEq is given in a single dose.
If you take too much potassium chloride, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.
- Store potassium chloride at room temperature.
- Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.