Potassium bicarbonate is a bubbly medication that is used to neutralize acid in the stomach and boost potassium levels in those whose bodies are experiencing severe potassium deficiencies. Because the body requires potassium for a number of functions, it is very important to maintain normal potassium levels. However, if you are potentially taking this medication, it is important to be aware of the risks and potential side effects.
The liquids in the body are either acids or bases. When the two are in balance in the body, normal functions can take place. However, when too much acid is present in the body, painful symptoms can occur including stomach upset. A natural base, potassium bicarbonate works to neutralize acid, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders on ClinicalTrials.gov.
The potassium in potassium bicarbonate also is a mineral needed for normal body functions. If the body does not ingest enough potassium, potassium bicarbonate can contribute additional amounts of the mineral, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon University.
If a person does not have enough potassium in the body, a condition known as hypokalemia, negative symptoms can occur. These include fatigue, muscle cramping, constipation, bloating, muscle paralysis and potentially life-threatening heart rhythms, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Taking potassium bicarbonate can help to reduce these symptoms. Potassium bicarbonate also can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
Side effects associated with taking potassium bicarbonate include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and/or gas, according to Kids Health. Eating smaller meals may help to reduce the risk of experiencing these symptoms. If side effects become severe, such as black or tarry stool, uneven heartbeat or severe stomach cramping, notify your physician, according to Drugs.com.
Potassium bicarbonate is given in an effervescent tablet or pill form, according to Kids Health. You should take it with a glass of water, at least four ounces, according to Drugs.com. Drink the water completely. If you typically experience nausea while taking potassium bicarbonate, take it with food.
Potassium bicarbonate can interact negatively when taken by those with certain health conditions. Tell both your physician and pharmacist any conditions you have been diagnosed with. These include kidney disorders, Addison's disease, stomach ulcers and colitis, according to Drugs.com. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, potassium bicarbonate could potentially harm your baby.