How Do Low Potassium Blood Levels Affect the Body?

How Do Low Potassium Blood Levels Affect the Body?
How Do Low Potassium Blood Levels Affect the Body? (Image: Jonae Fredericks)

What is Potassium?

Potassium plays an important role in the human body, and if the supply is low, you may become symptomatic. Potassium is a mineral that is highly dependent on balanced sodium levels in the body. So, if you ingest too much sodium, the body will naturally want to exhume it. Because of the close relationship between the two, the sodium will take the potassium with it. A healthy proportion of both elements will keep the kidneys functioning properly and help to maintain good cardiovascular strength.

How Does the Body Acquire Potassium?

Raw vegetables and fruits are the best source of potassium. Legumes are also a healthy food choice that is high in potassium and other important vitamins. Adding any of these to your daily diet can help reduce the risk of low potassium levels. Try adding extra vegetables to your salads. Snack on apples and carrot sticks instead of salty chips and pretzels. You will feel better, and your body will thank you.

What Happens if Potassium Levels are Low?

Potassium plays such a key role in the body that reduced levels can begin to throw your body out of whack. Poor lung functioning can be a factor because of the lungs' dependency on potassium for healthy air flow; such a scenario can lead to asthma and other breathing disorders. Another problem that low potassium levels can cause is irritable bowel syndrome. Potassium is very important to your digestive system, and a deficiency can wreak havoc on the colon, leading to IBD. More severe complications can occur along with prolonged potassium depletion such as stroke, high blood pressure and damage to the cardiac muscle.

How do Diuretics Affect Potassium Levels?

If you are a sufferer of congestive heart failure or kidney disease, you may be taking a diuretic to reduce the amount of water that your body is retaining. If so, it is important to have a blood test regularly. Diuretics help the kidneys flush sodium and water out of your body by producing urine. Often times, this process also releases potassium into the urine, substantially lowering potassium levels in your body. As a result, weakness can occur along with arrhythmias and muscle cramping. Therefore, a simple blood test can easily reveal a potassium problem to your doctor. He may suggest a potassium supplement along with the diuretic.

A Few Important Words in Regards to Hypokalemia

Severe cases of hypokalemia require immediate emergency care. In fact, weakness can become so significant that muscle paralysis can set in. In such cases, a hospital stay is usually required, along with intravenous treatments to help correct the problem. Dietary changes and daily potassium supplements are a must after the diagnosis.

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