Potassium is an important electrolyte in the body and is responsible for the function of muscles, nerves and the heart. A very low level of potassium is called hypokalemia and can have dangerous consequences as a person may feel weak in moving their body, experience paralysis, fainting or experience irregular heart rhythms. Vomiting, diarrhea, or the use of laxatives can lower potassium levels, while some medications, such as diuretics used to treat high blood pressure, can also remove potassium from the urine along with excess sodium and water. (Also Read: 5 Amazing Salt Substitutes To Reduce Heart Disease Risk And Add Flavor To Food)
In hypokalemia, the amount of potassium in the blood is too low. Normal potassium levels range from 3.5 to 5.2 mEq/L (3.5 to 5.2 mmol/L). Anything below 3 mEq/L (3 mmol/L) is considered severe hypokalemia. Although mild cases of hypokalemia are asymptomatic, dangerously low potassium levels should seek medical attention.
Due to low potassium levels
“Low potassium levels, also known as hypokalemia, occur when serum potassium levels fall below the normal range of 3.5-5 meq/l. Potassium is one of the body’s major electrolytes, which has a direct role in the activity of heart muscle, skeletal muscle, and bowel. Proper functioning. Low levels of potassium can disrupt these functions as it plays a role in the normal functioning of cells,” said Dr Kamal Verma, Senior Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine, Amrita Hospital. Faridabad.
“Significantly low potassium levels, especially in people with heart disease, can result in irregular heart rhythms. This can make you feel dizzy or faint. Low potassium levels can also cause your heart to stop beating. Potassium is needed to maintain this. Your muscles , neurons, and heart are working properly. Potassium is also needed for a healthy digestive system and bone health. A lack of potassium can affect these important bodily functions. Low levels of potassium in the body can lead to irregular heart rhythms, muscle weakness, and even paralysis. Saath,” Dr Punit Bhuvania, Consultant Nephrologist and Transplant Physician at Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road.
Symptoms of low potassium
Signs and symptoms of low potassium depend on the severity of the hypokalemia. Mild cases are usually asymptomatic, such as when potassium is 3-3.5 meq/l or unless the patient is elderly or has other major medical problems such as chronic kidney disease or heart failure. Symptoms usually appear when the serum K level falls below 3.0 meq/l.
Dr. Bhuvaniya explains the symptoms of hypokalemia in detail:
– Neurological: muscle spasms and leg weakness especially in the lower limbs; It can be like state paralysis.
– Gastrointestinal: Constipation and abdominal distension, nausea, and vomiting.
– Generalized fatigue and myalgia
– Cardiac: Caused by irregular heart rhythms associated with low blood pressure, palpitations, atrial and ventricular arrhythmias
– Weakening of the respiratory muscles and in severe cases respiratory failure.
Due to low potassium levels
Low intake – which is usually seen as low i.e. in conditions such as starvation and excessive fasting.
Acute diarrhea, persistent or frequent vomiting episodes, increased loss through the kidneys, medications – diuretics (which are usually given to treat high blood pressure and heart failure), use of additional laxatives for constipation.
Excessive sweating especially after heavy physical activity at high temperatures.
Treatment of low potassium
- Diet rich in potassiumFruits like bananas and oranges, green vegetables, potatoes and kiwis.
- Take potassium supplements as directed by your doctor.
- At the discretion of the treating physician, severe hypokalemia may require hospitalization.
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