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How Do You Know If You Are Low on Potassium?

by
author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
How Do You Know If You Are Low on Potassium?
Bananas are rich in potassium. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Your body needs a constant supply of potassium for the proper functioning of your nerve and muscle cells, especially those in your heart. A normal potassium level is between 3.6 and 4.8 milliequilvalents per liter, and anything less than 2.5 mEq/L is considered dangerous and possibly life-threatening, according to MayoClinic.com. Knowing the symptoms of low potassium will help you seek medical attention as soon as possible. A journal can help you keep track of your individual symptoms so you are able to recognize when your potassium levels get too low.

Step 1

Take note of muscle cramps or muscle weakness. Muscles need plenty of potassium to contract properly. If you feel cramps in any part of your body, your potassium levels may have fallen below healthy levels. Weakness is another sign of low potassium, so if you feel muscle weakness for more than a day, you may need to have your potassium levels checked. Tingling and numbness are additional muscular signs of low potassium.

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Step 2

Record your bowel movements. Constipation is a common symptom of low potassium. If you have difficulty passing stool or have not passed stool in more than a day, you may be constipated.

Step 3

Pay attention to the activity of your heart. Abnormal heart rhythm is a sign of low potassium, so if you feel an irregular heartbeat, your potassium may have fallen below healthy levels. Heart palpitations are another sign of low potassium. Heart palpitations feel like your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering or pounding.

Step 4

Monitor whether you feel nauseated on an ongoing basis or if you have vomited several times without another explanation. Nausea and vomiting are both signs of low potassium and serve as an important clue that your levels are too low.

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