Q:

What are the causes of low potassium?

A:

Quick Answer

The causes of low potassium include diarrhea, excessive alcohol intake, excessive sweating, diabetes ketoacodosis and chronic kidney diseases, says Mayo Clinic. Other causes of low potassium are diuretic medications and insufficient folic acid in the body.

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Full Answer

Low potassium, called hypokalemia, is a condition in which the normal blood potassium level, which is 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter, surpasses the level of potassium in the blood, explains Mayo Clinic. Typically, when the potassium level drops below 2.5 millimoles per liter, it implies a serious medical condition that needs immediate medical attention.

Depending on the severity of the condition, the symptoms of hypokalemia may vary from mild to serious, according to MedlinePlus. Mild symptoms include constipation, numbness, fatigue, palpitations and abnormal heart rhythms. Serious symptoms of hypokalemia include slowed heartbeat and lightheadedness. Very severe hypokalemia may cause cardiac arrest.

Doctors check the potassium level in the body with a blood test, then recommend a suitable remedy depending on the severity of the condition, reports MedlinePlus. To remedy less serious hypokalemia, the doctor may recommend taking potassium pills. For severe hypokalemia, potassium injections may be a suitable option. Other remedies for low potassium include foods such as avocados, bananas, oranges, milk and carrots.

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