Potassium citrate is a colorless, transparent crystal or white powder that has many uses. Because it reduces the acidity in urine, it may be effective in preventing kidney stones. In soft drinks and other foods, potassium citrate is added as a flavor enhancer and neutralizing agent. Potassium citrate contains inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions. Some health conditions, diseases and interaction with medications require caution when using potassium citrate.
As a dietary supplement, potassium citrate has several health benefits. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported on a study that assessed the effect of potassium citrate in women with osteoporosis; it found that bone mineral density increased significantly in the potassium citrate group.
If you have allergies, foods or supplements containing any ingredient with potassium citrate may induce a reaction. Potassium citrate is not recommended if you have stomach ulcers, a urinary tract infection, kidney or heart disease or an intestinal blockage. It should not be used with conditions such as a high blood level of potassium, aluminum toxicity, diarrhea, dehydration or tissue damage, including severe burns.
Prescription or over-the-counter medicine, dietary supplements or herbs may react with potassium citrate. ACE inhibitors, aldosterone blockers and potassium-sparing diuretics may increase the risk of potassium citrate's side effects, especially on the heart, according to Drugs.com. Potassium citrate may increase side effects of medications containing aluminum salts, atropine or certain stimulants, such as amphetamine. Reduced effectiveness of some drugs, such as lithium or tetracycline, may occur if combined with potassium citrate.
For safe usage, do not break, chew or crush potassium citrate tablets; swallow them whole. Potassium citrate should be taken with water, on a full stomach; do not lie down for 10 minutes afterward. Extra fluid intake may be recommended. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible unless it's time for your next dose, according to RxList.com. Two doses should never be taken at once.
It is normal to notice the tablet shell in your stool. Potassium citrate will not affect the results of lab tests, including those for blood potassium and electrolyte levels or electrocardiograms. If you are pregnant or become pregnant, discuss possible risks to your baby with your doctor; tests are inconclusive about the risks of potassium citrate in breast milk.
Contact with powdered potassium citrate may cause mild irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Potassium citrate may cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting. In rare cases, severe allergic reactions may develop, including itchy skin, rash or hives. Other possible side effects are respiratory reactions, with difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue; confusion; severe stomach pain; tingling of hands or feet; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; and weakness, according to Drugs.com.