What are the side effects if you lack potassium?


Quick Answer

Common symptoms of a potassium deficiency include fatigue, weakness or cramping, bloating, numbness or tingling, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, excessive thirst and urination, nausea or vomiting, and constipation. In addition, potassium deficient individuals may experience depression, delirium, psychosis, and hallucinations, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

Potassium plays a part in regulating blood pressure in the human body, as it is required by all the body's muscles including the heart, reports WebMD. Almost all of the body's potassium is found within its cells, and even small changes in extracellular concentration of potassium can have noticeable effects on nerves, muscles and heat function.

Symptoms of a potassium deficiency are often mild, making the condition difficult to identify, states WebMD. If a potassium deficiency is suspected, it can be confirmed through an electrocardiogram or blood work.

Common causes of a potassium deficiency include the use of diuretics or laxatives, dehydration, diarrhea and excessive sweating, according to WebMD. Individuals with eating disorders, alcoholics, AIDs patients and bariatric surgery survivors have higher incidences of potassium deficiency. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a potassium deficiency is resolved through administration of IV potassium or an oral supplement. Chronic potassium deficiencies are treated with dietary changes to include potassium rich foods such as bananas, oranges and peaches.

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