What could cause your potassium to be low?
Are you feeling weak and tired all the time? It could be because your potassium levels are low. Potassium is an essential mineral that helps regulate muscle contractions, heart function, and nerve impulses. A deficiency in this nutrient can cause a wide range of problems, from mild weakness and fatigue to life-threatening conditions like arrhythmias.
If you want to prevent this from happening or fix it before things get worse, then read on! In this article, we will explore some of the common causes of low potassium levels.
First Things First: What is Potassium?
Before anything else, let’s discuss what potassium is. It might sound like something scientific or complicated but don’t worry; we’ll break it down for you.
Potassium (K) is an element found inside your cells where it plays many important roles such as:
- Helping with muscle contraction
- Regulating fluid balance
- Assisting nerve transmission
In other words, potassium takes care of stuff so that you can take care of yourself!
Common Causes of Low Levels
Many factors can contribute to low potassium levels – some minor while others more severe. Here are the most common ones:
1 – Poor Dietary Intake
The body gets most K elements through food intake—especially fruits & veggies—this means eating limited amounts may sabotage how much Alkaline one receives within their bloodstream (unless they’re regularly consuming meat). Examples include people with eating disorders (anorexia), older adults not eating enough food due to appetite loss commonly caused by medication changes especially diuretics(see below for beyond diet)
2 – Prescription Medications: Diuretics/ Other Drugs Which increase urination
Doctors often prescribe diuretic drugs/tools(these force water out of your system–in urine form) usually for salt reduction reasons(i.e., to counter heart disease). These tools usually increase potassium removal from your body. Also of interest: other blood pressure medications, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs- such as omeprazole and lansoprazole) which are used to treat acid reflux/discomfort issues.
3 – Hormonal Changes & Laxatives
Commonly found in foods fortified with estrogen hormone(like dairy), high cortisol levels (occurs following prolonged stress phases) can cause you to excrete more K minerals than the usual amount. Additionally, laxative cleanses can often result in extremely low K mineral balances that force people into hospitals for rehydration (Be warned)
4 – Celiac Disease / Crohn’s Disease
Gluten intolerance -some allergic reactions caused by inflammation surrounding celiac tissue—sometimes results in bowel damage affecting one’s nutrient absorption abilities including potassium intake.
On the other hand, those who have Crohn’s disease might experience diarrhea that leads to an electrolyte imbalance in case they neglect their physician-recommended diets.
Other Unique Reasons
These particular reasons aren’t exclusive but still may contribute significantly:
- Insulin therapy [say hi Diabetes patients] has been connected with hypokalemia aka Potassium deficiency since insulin causes increased flow of Potassium within cells.
- Excessive sweating or pee; Other activities resulting heat production typically increases loss of water and minerals through sweat leading frequently towards dehydration which lowers fluid concentrations like potassium within a person´s system.
- Alcoholism comes with daily potassium losses increasing chances for heart problems over time
- Kidney disease impairing kidney functions will undoubtedly lower K balances
Symptoms One Should Keep An Eye On
Symptoms Of Hypokalemia is a mouthful so let´s skip on them! If you care about feeling under-the-weathe sporadically then note the below signs/symptoms when low amounts surface up:
- Weakness and Faintness
- Abnormally slow heart rate or palpitations
- Muscle cramping/spasms
- A sense of numbness around your limbs
- Decrease in urine output
- Abdominal bloating/cramps
To diagnose low-potassium levels, doctors typically start by checking patients’ potassium blood concentration. They measure it through taking precise samples from veins while monitoring the presence(absolute measure) of electrolytes in the bloodstream.
Treatment Options For Hypokalemia
If diagnosed with hypokalemia, you should start treatment as soon as possible. Here are a few options:
Changes to Diet Habits (major)
As mentioned earlier, poor diet intake could be one major cause that leads to K- deficiency; An excellent option would be to consider eating more potassium-rich foods such as bananas, spinach/leafy greens (kale and broccoli), salmon protein sources alongside some baked white potato-like starches.This step works for people who have mild versions.
Potassium supplements come in capsule/tablet forms known typically prescribed if there is no relating issue regarding stomach/sensitivity concerns. Always follow physician´s suggested dose instructions besides any accompanying food pairing since it plays an important role in drug-absorption rates & efficacy.
This option applies when hypokalemia has escalated into a severe/debilitating stage after not improving during initial treatments which sometimes can involve receiving intravenous fluids like Saline solution mixed up with Potassium infusion—a quick fixer combined into hospital settings only providing right amount balances missing otherwise e.g., minerals/vitamins at appropriate concentrations etc
Although certain exceptions exist based on causal factors explained above—the pieces together information we got so far boiling down that many activities within our busy schedules may impact nutrient mineral balance processes(one which includes Potassium content) so we´ve got to keep track of our daily intake which shouldn´t be too hard as there are numerous healthy sources to quickly replenish it with. So stay vigilant, folks!