Ask us: Does chronic use of potassium citrate have any long-term drawbacks?

In our “Ask a kidney stone doctor” section, we field questions from stone formers or their family members. Today’s question is about long-term use of potassium citrate. See other questions and answers or ask your own question here.

 

October 11, 2011

Question from a stone former in the UK:

Does chronic use of Potassium Citrate (to keep the pH alkaline) have any long term drawbacks?

Answer:

Long term potassium citrate therapy is generally well tolerated and safe but can carry some potential side effects and risks. Some patients may experience gastrointestinal upset with the medication. Taking it with meals can help alleviate this. There also appears to be conflicting evidence about whether potassium citrate can increase the risk of calcium phosphate stones by causing the urine to be too alkaline. If there is an increased risk of calcium phosphate stones, it appears to be small. Finally, potassium citrate therapy can cause an abnormally high blood potassium level in certain situations. According to the manufacturer of Urocit-K, “Conditions that may put you at risk include kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes, severe dehydration, strenuous physical exercise if you’re unconditioned, extensive tissue breakdown, or adrenal insufficiency”.

References: Campbell-Walsh Urology, 10th ed. and Mission Pharmacal prescribing information

About Dr. Mike Nguyen

Mike M Nguyen, MD, MPH, is a urologist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones with both surgery and dietary prevention and the in the treatment of kidney and prostate cancer using the latest robotic surgical approaches. He sees patients at clinics located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and La Canada, CA. He is the founder of the www.KidneyStoners.org website.
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