Which medications in the drug class Electrolytes are used in the treatment of Hypokalemia?

Updated: Dec 06, 2018
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Potassium is essential for transmission of nerve impulses, contraction of cardiac muscle, maintenance of intracellular tonicity, skeletal and smooth muscles, and maintenance of normal renal function. Gradual potassium depletion may occur via renal excretion, through gastrointestinal loss, or because of low intake. In general, a 1 mEq/L drop in potassium correlates to a loss of 100-200 mEq of total body potassium. However, hypokalemia may result from the movement of potassium into cells without loss of potassium from the body.

Electrolytes can be used as oral or parenteral therapy for potassium replacement. Most patients respond well to low-dose supplements.

Potassium chloride (K-Dur, Klor Con, Klor-Con M, KTab, MicroK, Kaon CL 10, K-Lyte Cl, Kay Ciel)

Potassium chloride is the preferred salt for patients with preexisting alkalosis. It is the first choice for IV therapy. Oral preparations include 8 mEq slow-release tablets, 20 mEq elixir, 20 mEq powder, and 25 mEq tablets. Any of these forms may irritate the stomach and cause vomiting; consequently, they should be taken with food or after meals to minimize gastrointestinal discomfort.

Unflavored liquid potassium chloride has an unpleasant taste, so pills may be conducive to better compliance. Long-acting supplements often are not as well absorbed, but microencapsulated forms often are better tolerated. Tailor the dose to the patient's needs.

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