Potassium chloride is a supplement that can treat low potassium levels or hypokalemia.
Potassium is a mineral present in most human cells. It is a type of electrolyte that helps with nerve function, muscle movement, heartbeat regulation, and more. Low potassium can cause hypokalemia, which can be serious. Dietary sources of potassium include leafy green vegetables and other fresh foods.
This article will examine potassium chloride, its uses, side effects, benefits, and more.
Potassium chloride is a salt-like metal compound that contains potassium and chloride. It comes in the form of white, colorless, cube-shaped crystals and has a strong, salty taste.
A person can purchase potassium chloride online or in health stores. It is available as a powder or extended-release tablet.
People can use potassium chloride to treat low potassium levels or hypokalemia.
Hypokalemia can lead to an irregular heartbeat, which may lead to death in severe cases.
It can result from:
- insulin deficiency
- insulin-replacement treatment
- gastrointestinal infection or diarrhea and vomiting
- kidney problems
The kidney is instrumental in retaining or excreting potassium from the body. The body can lose excessive amounts of potassium through vomiting and diarrhea.
In these instances, a person can use potassium chloride as a supplement to increase their potassium intake.
Other uses of potassium chloride include:
- eye drops and contact lens care
- a low sodium food substitute
- medication administered orally, via injection or intravenously
The human body needs potassium to work properly. Potassium
A diet high in potassium can help reduce some of the harmful effects salt has on blood pressure.
Benefits of taking potassium chloride
- reducing high blood pressure
- reducing the risk of developing heart disease and stroke
- a reduction in salt consumption when used as a substitute
Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:
- beet greens
- cooked fufu
- lima beans
- swiss chard
- root vegetables, including sweet potato and parsnip
Potassium chloride is
When taking any medicines or supplements, a person should always follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s label or doctor’s prescription.
In more severe cases, healthcare professionals can administer potassium chloride intravenously through a tube into the vein.
A person should consult a doctor before giving potassium chloride to babies and children under 16 years of age.
A person should always consult a doctor before using any supplements.
These figures do not apply to those who release more or less potassium through urine, for example, due to kidney problems or medications.
|14–18 years||3,000 milligrams (mg)||2,300mg|
|19+ years||3,400 mg||2,600 mg|
A person should not take potassium chloride if they take medications that increase excess potassium.
People with chronic kidney disease should also avoid taking potassium chloride, as their kidneys might be unable to expel excess potassium from the blood.
A person is
A person is most at risk from hypokalemia if they have inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
People who take potassium-sparing diuretics, thiazide diuretics and ACE inhibitors may also be at risk of ingesting too little potassium.
People who take potassium chloride may risk consuming too much potassium, resulting in hyperkalemia.
Some people with hyperkalemia may be
- heart palpitations
- muscle weakness
- paresthesias, or prickling or burning feeling in extremities
- heart arrhythmia, which may be life threatening
- kidneys not excreting potassium
- small bowel lesions, which may result in perforated bowel, an obstruction, or hemorrhage
If someone suspects they have taken too much potassium chloride, they should seek medical attention.
Most adverse effects
Taking the drug orally may cause vomiting and diarrhea. If a person has an injection, they may experience some complications at the injection site, including:
- phlebitis or inflammation of veins
- erythema or red patches of skin
- thrombosis, or blood clotting, at the injection site
- mild hyperkalemia or higher than usual potassium levels in the blood
According to the
Potassium chloride may not be safe for people who take:
- ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers: These include Lotensin or benazepril and Cozaar or losartan.
- Potassium-sparing diuretics: Medications include Midamore or amiloride and Aldactone or spironolactone. A person taking these medications needs their potassium levels monitored through blood tests.
- Loop and thiazide diuretics: Medications include Lasix or furosemide and Bumex or bumetanide. Thiazide diuretics include Diuril or chlorothiazide and Zaroxolyn or metalazone. These drugs increase the body’s excretion of potassium, which may lead to low potassium.
This section answers some frequently asked questions about low potassium and potassium chloride.
What are the signs of low potassium?
Many people with hypokalemia do not display any symptoms, so it can be hard for a doctor to diagnose.
If a person does have symptoms, they may
- muscle weakness starting in the lower body and progressing further up
- nausea and vomiting
- abdominal distension
- muscle cramps
- rhabdomyolysis resulting in dark urine
How does potassium chloride affect the heart?
If a person takes too much potassium chloride, they may experience heart palpitations or heart arrhythmia, which can be life threatening.
However, having low potassium levels can also affect the heart, increasing the stiffness of the arteries and reducing muscle movements.
A 2018 study found that people with heart failure were more likely to take diuretics and have low potassium levels. Diuretics can increase the loss of potassium through urine.
Heart ventricle arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat is more likely to develop in a person with low potassium levels. Low potassium levels may lead to increased calcium in the body, which can further initiate arrhythmia.
If a person has low potassium levels, they should consult a doctor. They will recommend an adequate amount of potassium chloride to avoid hyperkalemia and straining the heart.
What happens if you take too much potassium chloride?
Taking too much potassium chloride may result in hyperkalemia. This is when potassium levels in the blood are higher than usual. It is the opposite of hypokalemia.
Hyperkalemia can develop quickly. Symptoms include:
- muscle weakness
- tingling or numbness
- nausea or vomiting
- heart palpitations
- chest pain
- feeling short of breath
A doctor can see how much potassium is in a person’s body by analyzing a blood sample.
Levels of potassium are as follows and measured in millimoles per liter (mmol/l):
|normal potassium||3.5 – 5.0|
|high potassium||5.1 – 6.0|
|dangerously high potassium||>6.0|
People whose potassium levels are at the extreme ends of the scale may need urgent medical treatment, as this can be life threatening.
Potassium is an essential mineral for the body to maintain good health and functioning.
Natural sources of potassium include green leafy vegetables, fruit, dairy products, beans, and nuts.
A person can also take potassium chloride as a supplement to increase their potassium levels. A person should take supplements alongside a healthy, balanced diet. Always talk with your doctor before taking any supplements, including potassium chloride.
Certain medications, such as diuretics, may result in low potassium levels, known as hypokalemia. In this case, a person will need to take potassium chloride to compensate.
Taking too much potassium chloride may result in hyperkalemia, which may also need treatment.
Hypokalemia and hyperkalemia can cause serious health conditions, such as heart and kidney failure.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of either condition should consult a medical professional.
Carefully monitoring and balancing potassium levels will help keep the condition stable.