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Low Potassium & Headaches

author image Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.
Low Potassium & Headaches
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium. Photo Credit Shana Novak/Photodisc/Getty Images

Potassium is an important mineral for the proper function of your cells, tissues and organs. It is also an electrolyte, a substance which conducts electricity. Crucial to proper heart function, potassium is important for digestion and muscle function as well. Foods that are rich in potassium include meat, some types of fish such as salmon, dairy products, legumes, and a range of fruits and vegetables that includes bananas, citrus, avocados, tomatoes, and cantaloupes.

Low Potassium

Low potassium is called hypokalemia. Too much potassium is known as hyperkalemia. Low levels of potassium in your system can be caused by an excess of sodium, diarrhea, vomiting, excess sweating, malnutrition, malabsorption illnesses such as Crohn's disease, and by some diuretics.


A low level of potassium can be life threatening. It can lead to paralysis of the muscles including the heart muscle. Symptoms of hypokalemia include body weakness, lack of energy, muscle cramps, stomach problems and an irregular heartbeat. There are other symptoms as well, such as poor circulation, a bluish tint to the skin, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, earaches, edema, insomnia and headaches. Low levels of potassium may also be linked to poor bone health and high blood pressure, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. High levels of potassium can be dangerous as well, slowing your heart to critical levels.

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Headaches come in the forms of tension headache, the most common type; migraines; cluster headaches; and sinus headaches. Tension headaches are caused by tight muscles in the shoulders, neck, scalp or jaw. Tension headaches can be triggered by stress, depression, anxiety, a lack of sleep or alcohol.

Potassium and Migraines

CAMBIA is a drug used to treat migraine headaches. It uses potassium bicarbonate to speed the delivery of the active ingredient in the drug, diclofenac, into your system. The potassium bicarbonate itself does not treat migraines, it just makes CAMBIA a quicker-acting drug. The safety and effectiveness of CAMBIA for cluster headaches has not been established. If you suffer from migraine headaches, consult your doctor before using CAMBIA.


Dr. George Obikoya, writing for The Vitamin Nutrition Center website, says that potassium is a natural pain reliever. It helps heal cuts and bruises and contributes to a sense of well-being. It also helps control convulsions, headaches and migraines. As noted previously, headaches can be caused by low potassium levels.

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