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Introduction

Low levels of potassium are commonly characterized bycertain symptoms and physical signs and it can potentially cause numeroussevere ailments like kidney and heart problems. Potassium is one of the most vitalminerals and the human body needs it for proper kidney, heart and skeletalsystem functioning. Potassium and several other electrolytes such as sodium,magnesium and calcium are very important for the production of electricity inthe human body. It is of utmost importance to maintain the needed levels ofpotassium in the body. Hyperkalemia is a condition when the potassium levels inthe blood are high, while the condition in which the potassium levels in thebloodstream are low is called hypokalemia. Both of these conditions can lead tosevere health conditions. Hypokalemia occurs when the human body does notreceive the needed amounts of potassium and it is usually caused by losingexcessive amounts of potassium through urine but it can also be the consequenceof a low intake of potassium through one’s daily diet. Certain types ofmedication such as insulin, bantacids, fluconazole, amphotericin andcorticosteroids can significantly decrease the levels of potassium in the bloodwhich ultimately leads to hypokalemia. This condition can become fatal if not treated on time.

Symptoms

Potassium insufficiency can be recognized by certainsymptoms and signs such as stomach disturbances, weakness, frequent musclecramps and irregular heartbeat. If one takes an electrocardiogram test whichmeasures the functions of the heart the results are usually abnormal after theexecution. Other signs include dry skin, constant thirst, excessive fatigue andrecurring chills.

Side Effects

The most significant side effects of potassium deficiencyare nausea and frequent vomiting. Constipation and diarrhea are not uncommonfor low levels of potassium in the bloodstream. Other signs may or may notinclude insomnia frequent headaches and in severe cases low blood pressure,heart attacks and high cholesterol may be experienced. Low potassium levelsthat last for prolonged periods of time may cause permanent kidney scarring.

Treatment

The best treatment for low levels of potassium in theblood stream is a healthy and balanced diet which includes ingestion of foodsrich in potassium. The foods that are abundant in potassium include tomatoes,bananas, avocados, lima beans, salmon, chicken and apple cider vinegar. One mayconsider taking supplements especially if she or he takes any of themedications mentioned above that are known for lowering the levels of potassiumin the blood stream.

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