What is Hypokalemia

When the level of potassium in the body comes down in the body, it means the person is suffering from Hypokalemia. The causes are many. Usually it happens as side effect of illnesses that may cause severe loss of fluid. In majority of cases the attack is mild and is curable by improving the diet. However, if the potassium deficiency is at a very low level intravenous medication may be required to bring up the potassium level in the body to normalcy. Severe loss of fluid may occur due to vomiting or onset of diarrhea.

Severe loss of fluid results in the essential nutritionals level in the body getting very much lower. That includes potassium which essentially regulates nerve and muscle activity. It also helps in maintaining the muscles and skeleton in healthy condition and also in recovering after any physical stress. This is the normal case in a healthy person who receives the required quantity of potassium through healthy foods, which include green vegetables, fruits like bananas and pineapples and also milk.

If a person who is in normal health gets an attack of Hypokalemia, it is due to improper diet. However, in certain cases people who have to take antibiotics for certain ailments or undergone surgery or suffered from illnesses may also become susceptible to potassium deficiency. In some cases the disease may occur due to inherited genetic causes. People should be particularly careful about the side effects of all medicines especially antibiotics. In mild cases it is difficult to diagnose the symptoms. However, any fatigue of muscles or losing control over them will be an indication of potassium deficiency.

Most cases are dealt with by improvement in the diet to bring up the potassium level. Some cases may be chronic but still mild. These people will use potassium supplements in addition to the diet. Genetic contributors for causing Hypokalemia have been identified as Bartter Syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome. When a person experiences paralysis, respiratory difficulties, loss of control over reflexes it becomes a case of severe Hypokalemia. When this happens the patient has to consult a doctor immediately for proper treatment as otherwise it may reach critical levels.

When a person with a severe case of Hypokalemia consults a doctor, the immediate treatment is intravenous injection of saline solution, which acts quickly to boost the level of potassium. If attended to at the right time it may not be necessary to go for any treatment on a long term basis. At best the doctor may prescribe some potassium supplements and also a better diet rich in potassium. In cases where the cause is the side effect of ant medication the doctor may change the medicine or stop it.