Potassium citrate for kidney stones

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
potassium citrate Urocit-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 medication is used to prevent kidney stones.

How Well It Works

In one study, potassium citrate reduced calcium stones by 90%.1 How well it works to prevent or reduce uric acid and cystine stones is less well known.

Side Effects

The liquid form of potassium citrate may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or gas.

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

What To Think About

You can also control the level of acid in your urine by taking baking soda. But potassium citrate has fewer side effects.

You will have to monitor your urinary acidity (pH) to keep the pH between 6.0 and 7.0 while 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.

You may be able to reduce or prevent side effects commonly caused by potassium citrate, such as nausea, bloating, or gas, by adding water to the medicine or taking it with food.

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.

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

References

Citations

  1. Spector DA (2007). Urinary stones. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 754–766. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Last Updated: May 4, 2009

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