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What are the effects of low potassium?

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Quick Answer

The effects of low potassium range from muscle cramps and fainting to hypokalemia, according to WebMD. Although the effects of low potassium are vague in the beginning stages, it can have a lasting effect on the body if left untreated.

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Full Answer

Potassium is essential for the human body because it allows the nerves and muscles to function properly, states WebMD. This process is especially important for the heart, one of the largest muscles in the human body. Low potassium levels can cause cramping of the muscles, nausea, vomiting, weakness, tingling, heart palpitations, unusual amounts of urine or even abnormal psychological behavior.

Low potassium can be caused by diarrhea, excessive sweating, dehydration or medicines that affect the levels of potassium in the body, reports WebMD. The effects of slightly lowered potassium levels within the body have mild effects, such as constipation and tingling of the extremities. Extremely low levels of potassium in the body result in hypokalemia, which is a metabolic imbalance. Potassium is a mineral, or electrolyte, that helps with the contraction of muscles, aids in the functioning of many proteins, works with sodium to maintain a normal flow of body fluids between the cells in the body, and helps regulate blood pressure.

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