Hypokalemia: what happens when the blood potassium level is low

Hypokalemia: what happens when the blood potassium level is low

Hypokalemia is a disorder which indicates a lack of potassium in the blood. Let’s find out why it occurs, its symptoms and remedies.

When the blood potassium level is low, such as less than 3,5 mmol/l, we talk about hypokalemia. It is a decrease of the potassium concentration in the blood, cause by many different causes.

What is potassium for and why is it important to keep it under control? It is a fundamental mineral salt for our body, because it balances the cardiac and neuromuscular functions. We take it with the food we eat.

Once it arrives in the intestine, it goes to the blood and eliminated through urines and feces. Let’s find out the causes and symptoms of the lack of this important mineral salt.

Hypokalemia: causes

A normal potassium level goes from 3,5 to 5,0 mEq/l. When its lower, the disorder is called hypopotassemia or hypokalemia. It can be mild, moderate or serious.

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This disorder is often caused by kidney problems. This condition often occurs because of an increase of potassium elimination through renal excretion.

Therefore, at the base of the hypokalemia there are problems such as nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, nephrotic syndrome, pyelonephritis, renal tubular acidosis. However, other causes might also be metabolic syndrome, dialysis, gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, vomit, etc.), diuretics, excessive use of laxatives or other kidney diseases.

There are thousands of causes for hypokalemia. Therefore, it is better to run specific exams to understand the main reason of the problem.

Potassium deficiency: hypokalemia symptoms

The symptoms that can make us think we are suffering from this problem are:

– tiredness ad muscle weakness;

– cramps;

– nausea;

– drowsiness;

– palpitations.

In general, the symptoms involve a strong general physical weakness, with bone, joint and muscle pains. The heart struggles in pumping blood and the kidneys work badly. At older ages, it can also cause dehydration.

Possible remedies

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A first remedy can be taking this mineral salt with the right diet. Which foods contain potassium? Try and eat bananas, rice, wheat, leeks, artichokes, spinach, nuts, almonds, lettuce, fish, cherries, apricots, peaches, chicken, potatoes, grapes, pepper and beans, but also yeast and sunflower seeds.

Avoid eating too much salt, sweets and junk food. There also potassium supplements that can solve the problem. However, our advice is to ask your doctor for advice and run all the necessary tests, other than following the right therapies.

Photo source: https://pixabay.com/it/photos/banane-frutta-carboidrati-sweet-652497/, https://pixabay.com/it/photos/banana-frutta-tropicale-giallo-sano-614090/

ultimo aggiornamento: 21-04-2019

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