zig
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

What Depletes Potassium?

by
author image Jacques Courseault
As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician I have extensive experience in musculoskeletal/neurological medicine that will benefit the network.
What Depletes Potassium?
A group of foods that contain potassium Photo Credit elena_hramowa/iStock/Getty Images

Potassium is an essential mineral for normal function of the human body. Specifically, potassium is necessary for normal function of nerve, muscle and heart cells. Normal potassium is between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter. A level below 3.5 is termed hypokalemia, which is a depletion of potassium that a variety of factors may cause. Symptoms of hypokalemia include weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, constipation and arrhythmias.

Diuretics

Certain medications may cause a potassium depletion. Specifically, diuretics, or water pills, are common causes of low potassium levels. This occurs because diuretics act on cells in the kidneys to remove water from the body. The same cell that transports water from the bloodstream into urine also allows potassium to leak out into urine. Over time, this can cause a potassium depletion. If diuretics are causing a severe potassium depletion, your doctor may need to adjust your medications.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea may be the cause of your depleted potassium level. MedlinePlus, of the National Institutes of Health, states that excessive diarrhea may cause potassium to be excreted from the body. Taking laxatives, which increase the rate of bowel movements, may also contribute to a potassium deficiency. If you take a laxative, you may need to take a potassium supplement to replace lost potassium. If the diarrhea is not related to laxatives, the cause of diarrhea must be identified to stop potassium depletion.

Vomiting

Excessive vomiting may also be a reason for potassium deficiency. Considerable amounts of potassium are lost in gastric juices, which may lead to depletion over time. Therefore, the cause of vomiting must be treated to prevent further depletion. If you have bulimia, an eating disorder characterized by excessive vomiting, you may also be prone to potassium depletion. If you vomit excessively, you may need to take a potassium supplement to balance losses.

Kidney Disease

Certain kidney diseases may affect your potassium levels. According to MedlinePlus, Liddle syndrome, Cushing's syndrome, hypoaldosteronism, Barter syndrome and Fanconi syndrome may cause potassium depletion. In this case, treating the primary disease or taking a supplement is necessary to prevent sodium imbalance. In severe cases, you may need a kidney transplant to keep the body's electrolytes, including potassium, balanced.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

CURRENTLY TRENDING

Demand Media

Our Privacy Policy has been updated. Please take a moment and read it here.