Potassii Carbonas. Potassium Carbonate. Salt Of Tartar

A white, granular powder, with strongly alkaline taste which liquefies on exposure to the air by absorbing moisture from it. Average dose, gr. xv.-I Gm.

Potassii Bicarbonas. Potassium Bicarbonate

Sometimes called saleratus. It is not deliquescent 1 nor corrosive, nor as irritating as the carbonate; otherwise their qualities are the same. They are antacid stomachics and mild diuretics; stimulants of the liver; expectorants, and have some slight diaphoretic action.

In small doses on an empty stomach they promote the formation of gastric juice by increasing the diffusion of the blood constituents from which the gastric juice is formed. Large doses irritate the stomach, and, taken during digestion, decompose the gastric juice.

1 Melting by absorbing moisture from the air.

These salts are given before or after meals according to the effect desired. The alkalinizing action on the stomach and kidneys is more pronounced when they are taken during digestion. They must be well diluted, in mucilaginous or sweetened water. Average dose, gr. xv.-I Gm.

Liquor Potassii Hydroxidi. Solution Of Potassium Hydroxide

A clear, colorless liquid, strongly alkaline, containing about six per cent. potassium hydroxide. Average dose, e xv.-I mil, well diluted.

Potassii Hydroxidum. Potassium Hydroxide. Caustic Potash

Grayish-white pencils, hard but very deliquescent.

Caustic potash is very powerfully corrosive. When applied to the skin it melts slowly, destroying the tissues by its affinity for moisture and power of dissolving albumin. Its application is very painful and great care is required to avoid injury to the surrounding tissues. It differs from nitrate of silver in extending its action far below the surface; for this reason it is used in cases which require deep-reaching action. The healing process takes place more slowly after the application of caustic potash than after that of any other escharotic in use. A grayish slough is formed, with inflammation of the parts near by. The slough remains for a time varying from six to twelve days, when it separates, leaving a rather indolent ulcerated surface.

In using caustic potash the surrounding tissues should be protected by adhesive plaster, having a hole cut in it the size of the spot to be cauterized. The surface of the plaster is oiled, but the oil must not touch the skin. After sufficient action has been obtained, and the plaster removed, the spot may be washed with dilute vinegar.

In cases of poisoning by caustic potash, the corrosive action is seen about the lips and fauces in bloody oozing, sloughs of mucous membrane, and vomiting of shreds of sloughing and bloody tissue. Deformity of the mouth and contraction of the oesophagus and of the cardiac and pyloric orifices may remain after recovery, interfering mechanically with nutrition, and resulting in death after periods of time varying from six weeks to one or two years.

Potassii Citras. Potassium Citrate

Made with citric acid and potassium carbonate. The least unpleasant of all the preparations of potash except the tartrates. It has diuretic and refrigerant diaphoretic action. In the blood it is decomposed, and is excreted by the urine in the form of alkaline carbonate. Average dose, gr. xv.-I Gm., well diluted.

Potassii Acetas. Potassium Acetate

It is antacid, strongly diuretic, and, in large doses, mildly cathartic. It increases the flow of urine and diminishes the secretion of urea and uric acid. Average dose, gr. xv.-I Gm., largely diluted.

Potassii Chloras. Potassium Chlorate

The powder is white, odorless, with a cool, salty taste. It is not deliquescent. In combination with organic matters it is explosive. Soluble in 16 parts of cold and 2 1/2 parts of boiling water.

Physiological Action. Potassium chlorate acts as a stimulant to mucous membranes and ulcerated surfaces, and its use as an application for sore throat is familiar. In medicinal doses it has no marked effect upon the system, but taken continuously it is very irritating to the kidneys, and causes chronic nephritis or inflammation of those organs.

Poisoning by potassium chlorate is manifested in three directions:

1. By the formation of methaemoglobin and the destruction of red blood cells.

2. By irritation of the kidneys.

3. By depression of the heart.

Minute quantities of the drug may cause no ill effect, but in children, or when more of the drug is taken than nature can care for, the formation of methaemo-globin by oxidation from the haemoglobin of the red blood cells occurs at the same time that the cells are destroyed. Extrusion of the haemoglobin from the cells is called "laking" the blood. The result of this process is that the blood carries less oxygen and the tissues become asphyxiated by lack of oxygen, the latter being held in closer combination in methaemoglobin than in haemoglobin.

The kidneys are blocked up by the detritus of broken-down cells, and there may be acute inflammation of these organs - nephritis.

The depression of the heart and nervous system with the body muscles is due to the action of the potassium. The drug is especially dangerous for children and should not be given to them as a gargle or mouth wash in sore throat, diphtheria, etc.

The poisonous effect of potassium chlorate is not very generally known among non-professional people, and potassium chlorate is used to excess by numbers of persons, without the authority of a physician, under the impression that it is perfectly harmless. A nurse has many opportunities of observing habits of this kind, and should use all her influence to discourage them. Potassium chlorate is eliminated unchanged by the urine.

Symptoms Of Poisoning

Taken in sufficient quantities potassium chlorate is a powerful poison and has often caused death. The symptoms may be acute or subacute. In the former case there are violent vomiting, profuse diarrhoea, and great dyspnoea and cyanosis. After death, which occurs from heart failure, the blood is of a chocolate color. In subacute cases there are severe gastro-intestinal symptoms; vomiting of blackish-green matters and swelling of the liver and spleen. The urine is albuminous, diminished, and sometimes suppressed. Its color is dark, reddish brown, or black, and under the microscope the detritus of red blood corpuscles, which had choked the tubules of the kidney, may be seen. The nervous symptoms are headache, loss of appetite, great pains in the abdomen and other parts of the body, marked abdominal tenderness, tonic and clonic muscular contractions, a peculiar stiffness of the extremities, delirium, and coma. Small ecchymoses sometimes appear on the surface of the body, and there is frequently a general jaundice. In some cases there is a fatal relapse after the patient seems in a fair way to recover. The smallest poisonous dose is not known, but in one case death was caused by a little over 3 ss. A child one year old died from ʒ i. given in a night, and a child of three years from ʒ iii. In one case death took place a week after taking ℥ i.

Dose, gr. iv.-0.25 Gm., well diluted.

Potassii Cyanidum. Potassium Cyanide

It has the odor of hydrocyanic acid and similar though somewhat alkaline taste. It is soluble in water. When taken into the stomach the acids there convert it into hydrocyanic acid.

Physiological Actions

The physiological, therapeutic, and toxic effects of this salt are like those of hydrocyanic acid. Death however, does not occur so soon, and insensibility is sometimes not manifested for several minutes. Cases of poisoning have occurred from inhalation of the vapor; also from absorption through the hands, among photographers. There is, usually, little time to employ treatment. A weak solution of sulphate of iron has the effect of decomposing the poison, and converts it into Prussian blue. Cold affusions and other treatment, the same as used for hydrocyanic-acid poisoning, may be tried. Death has been caused by gr. v.

A solution of potassium cyanide, in the strength of 2 to 4 grains in ℥ i. of water, will remove the stains of nitrate of silver.

Potassii Bitartras. Potassium Bitartrate. Cream Of Tartar

Made from argol, and from lees of wine by purification and evaporation. White crystalline masses of pleasant acid taste, not readily soluble in water, requiring for solution in cold water about 180 parts, or more. An active diuretic and hydragogue cathartic. It is agreeably given as "cream of tartar lemonade." The quantity ordered is dissolved in hot water, and when cool, the clear solution is poured off, flavored with lemon juice, and sweetened to taste. In excessive doses it will produce gastro-intestinal troubles, and one case of poisoning is recorded after taking over ℥ ss.

Potassii Nitras. Potassium Nitrate. Saltpetre

Obtained for medicinal use chiefly by purification of native nitre found in beds of saline earths in India. It is also found in saltpetre caves in the United States, and is manufactured artificially in nitre beds formed of animal and vegetable matter, wood ashes, and calcareous earth; and, finally, is obtained from old plaster rubbish.

Nitre is refrigerant, diaphoretic, diuretic, and in large doses laxative. In excessive or concentrated doses it may act as a fatal poison, producing gastroenteritis and derangement of the nervous system.

Symptoms Of Poisoning

Burning pain in throat and stomach; bloody stools; syncope; collapse and death, sometimes preceded by convulsions. Death has been caused by ℥ i., but when in weak solution much larger quantities may be safely taken than would cause death if concentrated. There is no known antidote. Mucilaginous drinks should be given, vomiting freely promoted, and the stomach-pump used.

Average dose, gr. vii.-0.5 Gm., well diluted with barley water or other demulcent.

Potassii Et Sodii Tartras. Potassium And Sodium Tartrate. Rochelle Salt

Made by adding carbonate of soda to a solution of potassium bitartrate. A mild saline purgative, less efficient but less offensive to the taste than Epsom salt. It is given very hot or very cold, in a saturated solution. If given in hot water, the addition of tr. ginger, gtt. x.-xv., makes it more agreeable to the taste. If cold, it may be given in seltzer or carbonated water. It should be given early in the day and on an empty stomach.

Average dose, ʒ iiss.-10 Gm.