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What Is Potassium Hydrochloride?

By Joseph Pritchard

Potassium is a mineral that your body gets from food sources such as spinach, lentils and kidney beans. Insufficient potassium causes muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat and nausea. Too much potassium also causes adverse reactions. You should ideally get your potassium through dietary sources as much as possible. Nevertheless, your doctor may prescribe potassium supplements such as potassium hydrochloride to prevent potassium deficiencies. You should take potassium hydrochloride only as directed by your doctor to avoid adverse effects.

Use and Types of Potassium Hydrochloride

Potassium hydrochloride is used to treat hypokalemia, or low blood potassium, says. Potassium hydrochloride is available in tablet form as well as liquid, powder and long-acting form. High-dose potassium hydrochloride is only available by prescription. Avoid crushing or breaking an extended-release or long-acting version of potassium hydrochloride. Do not suck on potassium hydrochloride tablets because these can irritate your mouth or throat. When using potassium supplements, you will need periodic blood tests to gauge your blood potassium levels.


Factors, such as age and the form of potassium hydrochloride, affect the dosage of potassium supplements you need, says. Potassium hydrochloride and potassium chloride are both supplements that provide similar amounts of potassium to the body. However, potassium chloride is essentially made with potassium and chlorine, while potassium hydrochloride is made with potassium and hydrochloric acid. Adults and teenagers typically need about 20 to 50 mEq of potassium hydrochloride oral tablets for solution dissolved in water. Adults may take as much as 100 mEq of extended-release capsules. Children’s doses vary and must be determined by a doctor.

Side Effects

Seek medical assistance if you experience adverse reactions or side effects such as confusion and numbness of your extremities, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes. Potassium hydrochloride can also cause difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. You may also experience excessive weakness or heaviness of your legs as a result of taking potassium hydrochloride. Potassium hydrochloride will also cause extreme thirst and increased urination, says. Nausea and fainting are also possible effects of taking potassium hydrochloride.

Interactions With Food and Other Medications

Foods such as bananas and fresh vegetables and meat that contain potassium should be avoided because these will affect your potassium levels and the potassium hydrochloride supplement you are taking, the University of Maryland Medical Center explains. Salt substitutes and medications such as amiloride, spironolactone and triamterene will potentiate the effects of potassium hydrochloride. Eplerenone, quinidine and diuretics will interact with potassium hydrochloride, so inform your doctor if you are using them.

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