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Potassium – Facts and Symptoms of Hypokaliemia

Potassium isthe mineral necessary for our health. This mineral is important for thetransmission of the signals between the nerves and cells, regulation of the water andacid balance in the blood and muscle building. The recommended daily dose ofpotassium is around 3500mg (3.5g) per day.

There are twodistinctive conditions associated with the potassium: hyperkaliemia (elevatedpotassium level in the blood) and hypokaliemia (lack of potassium in theblood).

Potassium deficiency or hypokaliemiacan cause various symptoms, since the mineral is so widely used in the body. Itcan be presented as muscle cramps or weakness, heartbeat problems, headaches, depression,tiredness, confusion, anxiety or sleeping problems. Other symptoms ofhypokaliemia include: very dry skin, nausea, vomiting, extreme thirst, diarrheaor constipation and hypotension. Lack of potassium can affect the metabolism,causing salt retention and edema, heightened cholesterol and glucoseintolerance.

Potassium deficiency that developsvery fast may cause heart problems and lead to cardiac arrest or hypokalemicparalysis.

Causes of Hypokaliemia

When thinking about mineraldeficiencies people will always assume that there was not enough mineral takenwith the food or some medical conditions caused the deficiency. Talking aboutpotassium, it’s quite rare that people don’t eat enough of it, because manyfoods are rich in this mineral.

Poor diet can cause hypokaliemia. To preventthis problem, always provide plenty of fish, soy products, bananas, apricots, yogurtand broccoli. These foods will be able to maintain optimal potassium level andthey will prevent potential memory loss, tiredness and insomnia. People chewingtobacco or eating licorice should know that these substances might affect theabsorption of potassium.

Diuretic and laxative medications, penicillin,corticosteroids, hypertension medications and adrenal hormones might also causehypokaliemia. Ion exchange resins, used to treat heightened cholesterol in theblood may also be the reason of hypokaliemia. Check your potassium level frequentlyif you are using these drugs.

Prolonged diarrhea may also causeincreased potassium excretion and cause hypokaliemia.

Hyperthyroidism may cause imbalance ofseveral minerals in the body. It can be responsible for hypokaliemia, but alsofor the changes in calcium, magnesium and sodium levels in the blood.

Some kidney diseases can also affectthe potassium in the blood. Bartter and Liddle kidney disease and Cushing’ssyndrome are genetic disorders that might cause potassium deficiency. Patients ondialysis and those with kidney failure can worsen their condition if thepotassium level is too high. Because of this fact, kidney patients are advisedto consult their doctor before doing anything about their potassium level.

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