Potassium deficiency

Symptoms of severe potassium deficiency include fatigue, vomiting, abdominal distention, acute muscular weakness, paralysis, pins and needles, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, intense thirst, drowsiness, confusion and eventually coma. Muscle spasms, tetany, heart arrhythmias and muscle weakness can also be caused by increased nerve excitability associated with inadequate intake of potassium.

Potassium deficiencyCauses of potassium deficiency include high sodium diets, surgical operations involving the bowel, extensive burns and injuries, diabetes, Cushing's syndrome, excessive excretion of aldosterone, chronic diarrhea which limits gut re-absorption of potassium, persistent vomiting, influenza, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, ulcerative colitis, kidney disease, heart disease, chronic respiratory failure, prolonged fasting, therapeutic starvation, bizarre diets, anorexia nervosa, alcoholism and cystic fibrosis.

Several medications can also cause potassium deficiency. These include thiazide diuretics, long-term therapy with corticosteroids and adrenal hormones, laxatives, excessive intake of licorice and carbenoxolone, high dose sodium penicillin, intravehous infusions of glucose and salt solutions not containing potassium, ion exchange resins used to reduce blood cholesterol, and insulin.

The sudden death that can occur in fasting, anorexia nervosa or starvation is often a result of heart failure caused by potassium deficiency.

High blood pressure

Many population studies have found links between low potassium intakes and an increased risk of high blood pressure and death from stroke. Increasing the amount of potassium-rich foods in the diet can lead to a reduction in high blood presure. The ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet appears to play an important role in the development of high blood pressure. The typical Western diet is low in potassium relative to sodium.

Potassium depletion causes the body to retain more fluid in response to a large dose of salt, and high levels of potassium may enhance the excretion of sodium, thus decreasing blood volume and blood pressure.

 
 
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Potassium
Sodium
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