ask our doctors


Get the facts on Hypokalemia treatment, diagnosis, staging, causes, types, symptoms. Information and current news about clinical trials and trial-related data, Hypokalemia prevention, screening, research, statistics and other Hypokalemia related topics. We answer all your qestions about Hypokalemia.

Question: hypokalemia? What reason could i have hypokalemia? I eat very healthy, i'm not under any stress, i work out sensibly at the gym . My kidneys are functioning fine. Anyone got any other ideas ? Hi, i have read the long anwser LOL i havent used any water drugs and also havent had vomiting or diarrhea. I also dont drink alcohol. LOL It's a mystery for me ! good idea about the gym. i have only been going to the gym for 3 months, my potassium level droped twice a few weeks beofire starting the gym and last week

Answer: Hypokalemia is most commonly caused by the use of diuretics. Diuretics are drugs that increase the excretion of water and salts in the urine. Diuretics are used to treat a number of medical conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure), congestive heart failure, liver disease, and kidney disease. However, diuretic treatment can have the side effect of producing hypokalemia. In fact, the most common cause of hypokalemia in the elderly is the use of diuretics. The use of furosemide and thiazide, two commonly used diuretic drugs, can lead to hypokalemia. In contrast, spironolactone and triamterene are diuretics that do not provoke hypokalemia. Other commons causes of hypokalemia are excessive diarrhea or vomiting. Diarrhea and vomiting can be produced by infections of the gastrointestinal tract. Due to a variety of organisms, including bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, diarrhea is a major world health problem. It is responsible for about a quarter of the 10 million infant deaths that occur each year. Although nearly all of these deaths occur in the poorer parts of Asia and Africa, diarrheal diseases are a leading cause of infant death in the United States. Diarrhea results in various abnormalities, such as dehydration (loss in body water), hyponatremia (low sodium level in the blood), and hypokalemia. Because of the need for potassium to control muscle action, hypokalemia can cause the heart to stop beating. Young infants are especially at risk for death from this cause, especially where severe diarrhea continues for two weeks or longer. Diarrhea due to laxative abuse is an occasional cause of hypokalemia in the adolescent or adult. Enema abuse is a related cause of hypokalemia. Laxative abuse is especially difficult to diagnose and treat, because patients usually deny the practice. Up to 20% of persons complaining of chronic diarrhea practice laxative abuse. Laxative abuse is often part of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Hypokalemia that occurs with these eating disorders may be life-threatening. Surprisingly, the potassium loss that accompanies vomiting is only partly due to loss of potassium from the vomit. Vomiting also has the effect of provoking an increase in potassium loss in the urine. Vomiting expels acid from the mouth, and this loss of acid results in alkalization of the blood. (Alkalization of the blood means that the pH of the blood increases slightly.) An increased blood pH has a direct effect on the kidneys. Alkaline blood provokes the kidneys to release excessive amounts of potassium in the urine. So, severe and continual vomiting can cause excessive losses of potassium from the body and hypokalemia. A third general cause of hypokalemia is prolonged fasting and starvation. In most people, after three weeks of fasting, blood serum potassium levels will decline to below 3.0 mM and result in severe hypokalemia. However, in some persons, serum potassium may be naturally maintained at about 3.0 mM, even after 100 days of fasting. During fasting, muscle is naturally broken down, and the muscle protein is converted to sugar (glucose) to supply to the brain the glucose which is essential for its functioning. Other organs are able to survive with a mixed supply of fat and glucose. The potassium within the muscle cell is released during the gradual process of muscle breakdown that occurs with starvation, and this can help counteract the trend to hypokalemia during starvation. Eating an unbalanced diet does not cause hypokalemia because most foods, such as fruits (especially bananas, oranges, and melons), vegetables, meat, milk, and cheese, are good sources of potassium. Only foods such as butter, margarine, vegetable oil, soda water, jelly beans, and hard candies are extremely poor in potassium. Alcoholism occasionally results in hypokalemia. About one half of alcoholics hospitalized for withdrawal symptoms experience hypokalemia. The hypokalemia of alcoholics occurs for a variety of reasons, usually poor nutrition, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hypokalemia can also be caused by hyperaldosteronism; Cushing's syndrome; hereditary kidney defects such as Liddle's syndrome, Bartter's syndrom, and Franconi's syndrome; and eating too much licorice.

Hypokalemia News