Certain conditions can cause potassium deficiency or hypokalemia. These include:
- Kidney disease
- Overuse of diuretics
- Excessive sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting
- Magnesium deficiency
- Use antibiotics such as carbenicillin and penicillin
The symptoms of hypokalemia vary depending on your degree of deficiency.
A temporary decrease in potassium may not cause any symptoms. For example, if you sweat a lot during strenuous exercise, your potassium levels may return to normal after eating or drinking electrolytes to avoid any damage.
However, serious defects can be life-threatening. Signs of potassium deficiency include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Muscle cramps, weakness, or cramps
- Constipation, nausea, or vomiting
Hypokalemia is usually diagnosed by blood tests. Your doctor may also ask you to take a heart electrocardiogram and arterial blood gas test to measure the pH level in your body.
Too much potassium can cause hyperkalemia . This is rare in people with a balanced diet. Risk factors for overdose include:
- Taking too much potassium supplements
- Kidney disease
- Exercise for a long time
- Cocaine use
- Potassium-sparing diuretics
- Severe burns
The most obvious symptom of too much potassium is an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia). In severe cases, it can lead to death.
Cases of mild hyperkalemia rarely have obvious symptoms. If you have any risk factors, your doctor should request occasional blood tests.
There are different treatments for unbalanced potassium levels, depending on whether your level is too high or too low.
Potassium supplements are usually the first choice for low potassium levels. If your kidneys are in good condition, supplements are most effective.
Severe hypokalemia may require intravenous treatment, especially if you have an abnormal heartbeat.
Potassium-sparing diuretics can remove excess sodium from the body. This will help normalize electrolyte levels. However, some diuretics and potassium supplements can be harmful to the digestive tract.
Consult your doctor about wax-coated pills to help prevent digestive problems. Only people with normal kidney function can use potassium-sparing diuretics.
Mild hyperkalemia can be treated with prescription drugs that increase potassium excretion. Other methods include diuretics or enemas.
Severe cases may require more complex treatment. Kidney dialysis can remove potassium. This treatment is the first choice for cases of renal failure.
For people with healthy kidneys, a doctor may recommend insulin and glucose. These help transport potassium from the blood to the cells for removal.
Salbutamol inhalers can also reduce dangerously high levels. Calcium gluconate can be used temporarily to stabilize the heart and reduce the risk of serious cardiac complications caused by hyperkalemia.
If you have no risk factors, changes in potassium in your body may not be a problem. A healthy kidney is usually sufficient to regulate potassium in the body.
The medical condition that affects the level should be monitored regularly. If you experience any abnormal symptoms, call your doctor.