Potassium Deficiency Symptoms

A potassium deficiency causes hypokalemia, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the loss of excessive amounts of potassium through the intestines and urine. Multiple conditions can cause potassium deficiency symptoms in the body.

Potassium is a mineral with an important role in ensuring the bodies overall functioning capabilities that include the kidneys and heart functions.The symptoms of low potassium present themselves in many ways, both mental and physical. As with any persistent or continual sign or symptom, checking with a qualified medical doctor is recommended.

Physical symptoms include:               

  • A lack of energy and weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stomach upsets causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Nervousness
  • Unquenchable thirst
  • Cramps
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lack of sleep
  • High cholesterol
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Headaches
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Salt retention
  • Cardiac arrest

The mental symptoms include:

  •  Irritability
  •  Confusion
  •  Depression

Low Potassium Causes
There are certain causes and health conditions that may cause a deficiency in potassium. Anyone who is currently dieting or on medications or who have plans to start a diet or begin taking medications should be aware of the symptoms of potassium deficiency. Anyone with one of the listed conditions should also be aware of potential potassium deficiency and consult their doctor to ensure maintaining the proper potassium levels.

Causes include:

  • Some diets
  • Certain diuretics
  • Excessive fasting
  • Excessive use of laxatives
  • Diets high in sodium and a low intake of vegetables and fruit
  • Seniors on certain medications that could have an effect on potassium levels
  • Excessive sweating

Existing conditions that can cause a potassium deficiency include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Anorexia
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Malnutrition
  • Crohn's disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Influenza
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Respiratory failure
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