Low blood potassium level is a condition in which the amount of potassium in the blood is lower than normal. The medical name of this condition is hypokalemia.
Potassium - low; Low blood potassium; Hypokalemia
Potassium is an electrolyte (mineral). It is needed for cells to function properly. You get potassium through food. The kidneys remove excess potassium through the urinary system to keep a proper balance of the mineral in the body.
Common causes of low blood potassium include:
A small drop in potassium level often does not cause symptoms, which may be mild, and may include:
A large drop in potassium level may lead to abnormal heart rhythms, especially in people with heart disease. This can cause you to feel lightheaded or faint. A very low potassium level can even cause your heart to stop.
If your condition is mild, your provider will likely prescribe oral potassium pills. If your condition is severe, you may need to get potassium through a vein (IV).
If you need diuretics, your provider may:
Eating foods rich in potassium can help treat and prevent low level of potassium. These foods include:
Lorenzo Calo is in Padova, Italy. Calo is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Low Potassium Level. He is also highly rated in 11 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Gitelman Syndrome, Bartter Syndrome, Low Potassium Level, and Magnesium Deficiency.
Shinichi Uchida is in Tokyo, Japan. Uchida is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Low Potassium Level. He is also highly rated in 23 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Pseudohypoaldosteronism Type 2, Pseudohypoaldosteronism Type 1, Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus, and Low Potassium Level.
Ewout Hoorn is in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Hoorn is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Low Potassium Level. They are also highly rated in 23 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Low Sodium Level, Low Potassium Level, Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion, and Bartter Syndrome.
Taking potassium supplements can usually correct the problem. In severe cases, without proper treatment, a severe drop in potassium level can lead to serious heart rhythm problems that can be fatal.
In severe cases, life-threatening paralysis may develop, such as with hypokalemic periodic paralysis.
Call your provider right away if you have been vomiting or have had excessive diarrhea, or if you are taking diuretics and have symptoms of hypokalemia.
Published Date : May 01, 2021
Published By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Mount DB. Disorders of potassium balance. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 17.
Seifter JL. Potassium disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 109.