Low levels of potassium are commonly characterized by certain symptoms and physical signs and it can potentially cause numerous severe ailments like kidney and heart problems. Potassium is one of the most vital minerals and the human body needs it for proper kidney, heart and skeletal system functioning. Potassium and several other electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and calcium are very important for the production of electricity in the human body. It is of utmost importance to maintain the needed levels of potassium in the body. Hyperkalemia is a condition when the potassium levels in the blood are high, while the condition in which the potassium levels in the bloodstream are low is called hypokalemia. Both of these conditions can lead to severe health conditions. Hypokalemia occurs when the human body does not receive the needed amounts of potassium and it is usually caused by losing excessive amounts of potassium through urine but it can also be the consequence of a low intake of potassium through one’s daily diet. Certain types of medication such as insulin, bantacids, fluconazole, amphotericin and corticosteroids can significantly decrease the levels of potassium in the blood which ultimately leads to hypokalemia. This condition can become fatal if not treated on time.
Potassium insufficiency can be recognized by certain symptoms and signs such as stomach disturbances, weakness, frequent muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat. If one takes an electrocardiogram test which measures the functions of the heart the results are usually abnormal after the execution. Other signs include dry skin, constant thirst, excessive fatigue and recurring chills.
The most significant side effects of potassium deficiency are nausea and frequent vomiting. Constipation and diarrhea are not uncommon for low levels of potassium in the bloodstream. Other signs may or may not include insomnia frequent headaches and in severe cases low blood pressure, heart attacks and high cholesterol may be experienced. Low potassium levels that last for prolonged periods of time may cause permanent kidney scarring.
The best treatment for low levels of potassium in the blood stream is a healthy and balanced diet which includes ingestion of foods rich in potassium. The foods that are abundant in potassium include tomatoes, bananas, avocados, lima beans, salmon, chicken and apple cider vinegar. One may consider taking supplements especially if she or he takes any of the medications mentioned above that are known for lowering the levels of potassium in the blood stream.