It is no news that our organism requires a certain amount of nutrients and minerals and among them is potassium. It is crucial for health and being stored in the cells of the organism it takes part in the building of muscles and maintaining electrolyte balance. It is necessary for the proper functioning of nervous system and keeping normal levels of blood pressure as well as assisting in heart and kidneys functions.
Hypokalemia stands for the condition when there is a pretty great deficiency in potassium in organism. Actually, the normal amount that should be present in the body of a person for it to function properly is 3.6-4.8 mEq/L. In case the amount becomes smaller than that and especially lower than 2.5 mEq/L, it can be fraught with pretty bad complications. Effects of hypokalemia are various and very unpleasant. They can include the appearance of such symptoms as muscle cramps and weakness as well as constant fatigue and constipation and so on.
One of the after effects of hypokalemia is cardiac arrhythmia. This is the condition that presupposes the irregular heart beat that is either slower or faster than normal. It is met in many people and can be both as a serious symptom as well as not. This effect of hypokalemia can also be fraught with pains and fluttering in the chest as well as dizziness and lightheadedness. In some cases people may faint even.
Next in the list of effects of hypokalemia are problems with muscles. One of the first things to happen when there is potassium deficiency in the organism. Besides, fatigue and weakness can accompany the condition. Depending on the level of deficiency the condition may even lead to paralysis – in medical terms it is called hypokalemic periodic paralysis. This means that muscle cramps and paralysis come in periods. It is generally the condition that is inherited from parents. Muscle cramps that are one of the effects of hypokalemia generally happen at night or after the awaking in the areas of hips and shoulders. However, this is not only potassium deficiency that can be in charge – excessive alcohol as well as rich in carbohydrates meals can be the reason as well.
Hypertension is also very frequent among effects of hypokalemia. All in all high blood pressure can develop in a person throughout the lifetime and a person will have no idea about it. Hypertension happens when blood starts to push against the arteries walls harder than normal and this causes headaches and the feeling of dizziness in the first place. In some cases it can be accompanied with the bleeding from the nose.
Effects of hypokalimia also include constipation. Low potassium makes a person feel unwell and strained bowel movements and the sense of incompleteness after going to the bathroom.
In some cases potassium deficiency can lead to the damage of cells. This is a very serious one in the list of the effects of hypokalemia. It can lead to the heart and nerve damage as well as malfunctioning of muscles.
Effects of hypokalemia can be rather serious if the condition is left unattended. It is generally treated with potassium replacement therapy. The particulars of treatment depend on the level of potassium lacking. It is common for the patients with the severe condition to be placed under cardiac monitor. In case the deficiency is small supplements and vitamins will be of help. It is, however, recommended to pay attention to the above mentioned symptoms if they take place in order to avoid severe complications in future.