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Potassium Citrate for Kidney Stones

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
potassium citrateUrocit-K

How It Works

Potassium citrate attaches to calcium in the urine, preventing the formation of mineral crystals that can develop into kidney stones.

Potassium citrate also prevents the urine from becoming too acidic. This helps prevent uric acid or cystine kidney stones from forming.

Why It Is Used

Potassium citrate may prevent the formation of:

  • Calcium stones in people who have too little citrate in their urine.
  • Uric acid stones or cystine stones in people who have urine that is too acidic.

Potassium citrate may be used to replace potassium that is lost when a thiazide medicine is used to prevent kidney stones.

How Well It Works

Potassium citrate may help prevent the formation of calcium, uric acid, and cystine stones.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call911or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Black or tarry stools.
  • Severe belly pain and cramping.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Drinking 4 fl oz (118.3 mL) of frozen concentrate lemonade in 1 qt (1 L) of water per day is also a way of increasing potassium citrate in your body.

This medicine contains potassium. If you are on a diet that restricts potassium, talk with your doctor before taking this medicine.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

You will have to monitor your urinary acidity (pH) to keep the pH between 6.0 and 7.0 while you are taking potassium citrate. If your urine pH is much lower than 6.0 or higher than 7.0, kidney stones are more likely to form.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Citations

  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2012). Recurrent Nephrolithiasis in Adults: Comparative Effectiveness of Preventive Medical Strategies (AHRQ Publication No. 12-EHC049-EF). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also available online: http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/ehc/products/274/1035/kidney-stones-prevention-report-130409.pdf.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerTushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology
Current as ofMay 2, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 02, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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