What You Must Know about Hypokalemia Disease

Hypokalemia is condition when potassium levels in bloodstream under below in normal limits. Under normal conditions, potassium levels in the blood range from 3.6 to 5.2 millimolar per liter (mmol / L). However, if potassium levels are very low, ie less than 2.5 mmol / L, then it can be dangerous or even cause death if not treated immediately. Potassium is an electrolyte that is essential for nerve and muscle function, especially the heart muscle. Potassium also acts as a blood pressure regulator. Potassium levels in the body are controlled by the kidneys. If the potassium levels are excessive, the kidneys will remove potassium from the body through sweat or through the urine. Levels of potassium in the body also depends on sodium and magnesium levels. Excess sodium in body will increase the body who need for potassium, meanwhile magnesium deficiency often accompanied.


People with eating disorders (eg anorexia nervosa and bulimia), alcoholics, or people with AIDS are at greater risk of potassium deficiency. Potassium deficiency can also increase the risk of complications, such as muscle weakness, arrhythmia, and some other heart problems.

Symptoms of Hypokalemia

There are several symptoms that can arise if potassium levels are below normal limits, among others:

  • Stomach cramps and constipation.
  • Tingling and numbness.
  • Nausea, bloating, and vomiting.
  • Palpitations or palpitations.
  • Fainting when blood pressure is low.
  • Frequent urination and feel thirsty.
  • Fatigue, as well as cramps in the muscles of the arms and legs.

Psychological disorders, such as depression, delirium, confusion, or hallucinations.

If the potassium level in the blood is less than 2.5 mmol / L, then this condition can be classified as severe hypokalemia that can be life threatening.

In patients with hypokalemia who also consume digitalis drug group (eg digoxin), can appear symptoms of arrhythmias in the form of tachycardia, bradycardia, or atrial and ventricular fibrillation. In addition, symptoms of loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting can also occur.

Causes of Hypokalemia

Potassium deficiency can be caused by several things, but the factor that is most often the cause of excessive loss of potassium is the use of diuretic drugs that serve to accelerate the formation of urine.

There are several other factors that can lead to potassium deficiency, among which are chronic renal failure, diarrhea, diabetic ketoacidosis, excessive use of laxatives and alcohol, too much sweating, lack of folic acid, and some use of certain antibiotics.

While some diseases and other conditions that can also cause hypokalemia are:

  • Bartter's syndrome (a genetic disease of the kidneys that causes mineral salt imbalance, including potassium in the body).
  • Gitelaman syndrome (genetic disease in the kidneys that cause imbalance of ions in the body).
  • Lynd's syndrome (a genetic disease that can cause an increase in blood pressure and also hypokalemia).
  • Cushing's syndrome (a chronic illness arising from the long-term effects of hormone cortisol on the body).
  • Familial hypokalemia.
  • Eat certain foods containing bentonite and glycyrrhizin compounds.
  • Diuretic drugs, especially diuretics that can remove potassium from the body, for example is thiazide group.
  • Magnesium deficiency.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Impaired potassium absorption.
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Renal tubular acidosis type 1 and 2.
  • Barium poisoning.

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