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Uses, Benefits and Side Effects of Potassium Chloride

What is Potassium Chloride?

Potassium is a mineral present in the human cells and plays a role in helping with nerve function, muscle movement, heartbeat regulation, and many more.

Potassium chloride is a supplement that is used to treat low potassium.

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Low potassium can lead to hypokalemia which can be serious. The dietary sources of potassium include leafy greens and fresh foods. Other foods rich in potassium chloride are:(1)

  • Lima beans
  • Cooked fufu
  • Beet greens
  • Root vegetables including sweet potato

Potassium chloride can also be taken as a prescription medication as an extended-release tablet. It is also available as an injectable, readymade solution or in powdered form. A doctor should be consulted before giving potassium chloride to babies and children below 16 years of age.

Uses of Potassium Chloride

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Potassium chloride, as a supplement is used to treat low potassium levels. It can also be used as an eyedrop and contact lens care, and as a low sodium food substitute.

Low potassium level is also known as hypokalemia and can lead to irregular heartbeat, which in severe cases can lead to death. Low potassium levels can be due to the following reasons:

  • Kidney problem
  • Insulin-replacement treatment
  • Deficiency of insulin
  • Gastrointestinal infection
  • Kidneys play the role of retaining and removing potassium from the body.

Benefits of Potassium Chloride

Potassium is needed by the human body to function properly. It plays a role in muscle construction, nerve function, and heartbeat regulation.(2)

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Potassium is also beneficial in the following:(3)

Risks and Side Effects of Potassium Chloride

Potassium chloride should not be taken if a person is taking any medication that increases potassium.

Those with kidney disease should also avoid potassium chloride as the kidney might not be able to expel the excess potassium.

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There can be a risk of hyperkalemia in people with certain conditions, which include:(4)

Those taking potassium chloride supplements may also be at risk of consuming it in excess resulting in hyperkalemia. Sometimes hyperkalemia shows no symptoms in people, while some might show up the following symptoms:

If someone thinks he has consumed excess potassium should seek medical help.

A person can also experience adverse effects from the way potassium chloride is consumed.(5) Taking it orally may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Injecting it may result in phlebitis, erythema, thrombosis, and mild hyperkalemia.

Excess potassium chloride may lead to heart palpitations or heart arrhythmia that can be life-threatening.

Even low potassium levels can affect the heart by increasing the stiffness of arteries and reducing muscle movements.

Potassium is an essential mineral for the body’s health and wellness. Green leafy vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and beans are its natural food sources. If taken as a supplement, it should be kept in mind that even hyperkalemia can result in symptoms that would also need treatment. Anyone experiencing symptoms of hypokalemia or hyperkalemia should consult a medical professional to seek appropriate treatment.

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