Potassiums are a necessary mineral for the body as it helps nerves send their signals, muscles to move, and cells to get the nutrients they need. It is also crucial for the cells in the heart. 

When there is a lack of potassium in your blood, this is the time your muscles will feel weak or start to twitch, or your heart will beat in an abnormal rhythm. In this case, you might have hypokalemia. 

But what is hypokalemia? Keep on reading to learn more.

Understanding Hypokalemia

Hypokalemia, also known as hypopotassemia syndrome, occurs when a person’s blood has a low potassium level. The average blood potassium level ranges from 3.5 to 5.1 mmol/L for adults, and when it decreases below 2.5mmol/L, the condition can be severe. When your potassium level falls lower than the average, you could experience symptoms, such as muscle cramps that could lead to paralysis and arrhythmia.

What Are the Causes of Hypokalemia?

Hypokalemia is all about the low levels of potassium in the blood. That is why knowing what causes hypokalemia to occur is also understanding why you have low potassium in your blood. Below are some of the reasons why:

  • Too much potassium leaving the body in the digestive tract
  • Vomiting a lot
  • Adrenal glands or kidneys may not be functioning properly
  • Medications, such as diuretics, to pee
  • Diarrhea
  • Folic acid deficiency
  • Asthma medications
  • Some types of tobacco
  • Other antibiotics
  • Too much alcohol
  • Low magnesium
  • High levels of acids called ketones in your blood, or diabetic ketoacidosis 
  • Sweating a lot
  • Taking laxatives over a long period

What Are the Symptoms of Hypokalemia?

If you are only slightly hypokalemic or your feeling is temporary, you might not experience any symptoms. But when the potassium in your blood falls below the average level, you might feel the symptoms below:

  • Muscle cramps or twitching
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmia 
  • Going to the bathroom more often
  • Feeling thirsty more often

How Can Doctors Diagnose Hypokalemia?

First, your functional medicine doctor will request a blood test to confirm if you have hypokalemia. Additionally, they will be asking about your health history. The interview involves asking questions if you ever had an illness that made you vomit or resulted in diarrhea. Finally, the doctor might also request you to do a urine test to determine if you lose potassium when you pee.

What Is the Treatment for Hypokalemia?

To increase the potassium level in your blood, the doctor might ask you to take supplements, which you will consume by mouth. But in some cases, like when your potassium is severely low, or your medicine is not adequate, the doctor might prescribe injecting it instead.

Final Thoughts

Hypokalemia is dangerous to a person’s health and wellbeing, especially if it isn’t detected or treated. If you feel something unusual happening to you, such as frequent vomiting, muscle cramps, and twitching, or anything not normal that might be related to hypokalemia, consult your doctor immediately to address your health issues.

If you are looking for an integrative medicine doctor to help you handle your hypokalemia, book an appointment with Dr. Zubkov. We offer a personalized care program to help patients manage chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and other health concerns. Contact us today to learn more.