Potassium citrate is a powdered or crystallized potassium salt mineral used to minimize acid in the blood and urine, thereby preventing conditions such as kidney stones. This substance, which is commonly available in the form of a pill or a liquid, also helps to treat painful arthritic conditions, such as gout, by reducing the uric acid crystals, or waste, that can accumulate in the blood or urine and attack the body. Its medicinal properties regulate water and other bodily fluids, so potassium citrate helps eliminate the waste from the blood and urine and decrease the risk of other kidney diseases and medical conditions. This mineral-based pill also has been used to treat conditions such as rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure, and it can balance electrolytes and increase energy levels in the body when taken daily in adequate amounts. It also benefits those who suffer from hypokalemia, a disorder that involves low levels of potassium.
Medication instructions require that patients take a potassium citrate pill no more than three times a day with a full glass of water. To avoid an upset stomach or other gastrointestinal disturbances, it is highly recommended to take the pill with a meal or approximately 30 minutes after a meal. Potassium citrate must be swallowed whole rather than crushed or chewed, in order to allow for the mineral to release gradually rather than all at once. A special diet also might be ordered by the doctor to control salt and potassium levels in the body.
Potassium citrate is available only as a prescription, and a doctor must adjust dosage levels according to the patient's medical condition or health needs. Most of these medications produce little or no side effects, although they do exist for some people. Common side effects can include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, weakness and loose stools. At times, the side effects might be severe and include hives, chest tightness, trouble breathing and vomit that resembles coffee grounds. Any of these side effects should be treated immediately by a doctor.
Those who are otherwise healthy with no other medical conditions may take potassium citrate to balance potassium levels and keep kidney problems at bay by lowering acid in the body. Patients who take other medications or experience other health conditions should avoid potassium citrate and consult their doctor. This substance causes adverse reactions in people with ulcers, diabetes, kidney failure and Addison's disease, which affects the adrenal gland. Taking this medicine with other medications might result in accidental overdose if those other medications include potassium. Diuretics and alcohol should be prohibited while taking potassium citrate, because these can lead to dehydration.