Saltpeter ingestion

Am J Emerg Med. 1991 Mar;9(2):164-5. doi: 10.1016/0735-6757(91)90183-k.


A 37-year-old man presented to the emergency department after an attempt to self-treat his priapism with saltpeter (K+NO3). Initially he had a potassium of 7.6 with electrocardiographic changes and a markedly elevated CO2. The potassium and carbon dioxide normalized in less than 24 hours with standard treatment for hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia is expected with large oral potassium ingestion; and the elevated CO2 was spurious, caused by the misreading of serum nitrates by the Ektachrom 700 system. Ingestion of K+NO3 should be added to the differential of hyperkalemia with a markedly elevated CO2.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / blood
  • Hypercapnia / chemically induced*
  • Hypercapnia / drug therapy
  • Hyperkalemia / blood
  • Hyperkalemia / chemically induced*
  • Hyperkalemia / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Nitrates / poisoning*
  • Poisoning / complications*
  • Polystyrenes / therapeutic use
  • Potassium Compounds*
  • Priapism / drug therapy*
  • Self Medication / adverse effects*


  • Nitrates
  • Polystyrenes
  • Potassium Compounds
  • polystyrene sulfonic acid
  • potassium nitrate