How can I manage side effects of taking potassium?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

An easy way to manage the more common side effects of potassium (stomach or abdominal pain, cramping, nausea and vomiting, or diarrhea) is to make sure you are taking the potassium with a lot of fluid. Water, fruit juices, herbal teas, or other noncaffeinated drinks are all good choices. Making sure you’re as hydrated as the Atlantic Ocean helps reduce the amount of stomach and gut irritation the potassium can cause. Also, if diarrhea and/or vomiting are big problems for you, extra fluids will lower the risk for getting dehydrated.

But remember: In the case of severe pain, vomiting, or diarrhea (or if any of these symptoms do not seem to be going away), talk with your doc. Don’t just suffer in silence, let your doc know what is bothering you. He or she may want to change your dose or suggest another potassium option for you.

You can manage the side effects of potassium by following directions carefully. Take it with a full glass of water or juice, with food or immediately following a meal. Do not take more or less than you need and do not skip doses. Swallow extended-release tablets and capsules whole; do not chew them or dissolve them in your mouth. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any prescription instructions you do not understand.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.