Potassium is very important for humans. It helps regulate our brain, muscles and the digestive tract function. When potassium levels are low, the lack of the nutrient causes health crises and requires a quick medical treatment. For some patients, a change in diet is sufficient. For others, the deficiency requires prescription medication throughout the patient’s life. If you aren’t sure you are getting enough potassium, check the 8 symptoms of potassium deficiency below.
1. Heart Palpitations
Heart palpitations are one of the scariest symptoms of a potassium deficiency. The heart beats irregularly and speeds up or slows down. The feeling of the heart skipping a beat is also common. Some patients feel like they are having a heart attack, but the sudden arrhythmia is caused by low potassium levels. The palpitations can be painful and frightening.
At the first sign of heart palpitations in a patient who doesn’t have cardiovascular disease, the patient should visit their doctor for proper testing for potassium deficiency. Patients with cardiovascular disease should follow their doctor’s orders and take prescribed medication as directed. Palpitations are also common for patients who have anxiety and high-stress levels.
Doctors test the patient with an EKG machine and blood tests. With a potassium deficiency, there isn’t any sign of a heart attack, but the patient experiences some chest pain. Restoring the potassium levels is vital for recovery, and doctors give the nutrient via injection and oral medications.
Patients are advised to seek medical assistance if they experience heart palpitation as not all cases are vitamin deficiencies. Patients with existing deficiencies can review Potassium Iodate KIO3 and the benefits it provides for restoring vitamin and nutrient levels.
2. Sudden Fatigue and Weakness
Sudden fatigue and weakness are symptoms that can indicate lower-than-average potassium levels. The mineral regulates muscle contractions and supplies the body with necessary nutrients. Without an adequate supply, the individual feels tired even if they got eight hours of sleep and feel sluggish all day. The muscles are weaker and don’t perform as expected. Even the healthiest person cannot exercise or perform well when the potassium levels are too low. It affects diabetic patients more dramatically and prevents healthy insulin levels in the body.
Even the healthiest athletes who experience a sudden potassium deficiency won’t know what hit them. Onset is often quick and scary, and patients might experience some anxiety because of the sudden change in their bodies. Athletes drink electrolytes to restore vitamin and nutrient levels, but a patient with a deficiency might need additional treatments to regulate their potassium levels. Dietary changes and high food consumption are recommended for some patients. Supplements are a great way to increase potassium intake. Doctors make recommendations according to the patient’s current levels, and the potassium levels are included in routine blood tests during checkups.
3. Digestive Issues
Digestive issues are common with patients who have a potassium deficiency. The nutrient helps the brain send signals to engage the digestive system and force food from the stomach and through the digestive tract. When potassium levels are too low, digestion is a problem. Patients experience constipation and blockages because their levels are too low. Bloating and abdominal distention are other results of digestive issues. Severe cases lead to paralysis of the digestive tract, and patients must seek fast medical treatment. Severe blockages lead to sepsis and toxins being released in the body.
Patients with known gastrointestinal diseases might develop a potassium deficiency. The diseases prevent the patient from getting enough nutrients from their foods because of how quickly or slowly the digestive system processes food. Patients with diverticulosis, for example, experience sluggishness because the nutrients are released at a slower rate. Digestive disturbances are common for the patients, and potassium levels could be the culprit for the irregularities. Doctors recommend greater intake of potassium and prescription medications for some patients. Further testing might be required according to the gastrointestinal disease the patient has.
4. Numbness in the Extremities
Numbness in the extremities is a sign of potassium deficiencies, too. As potassium levels drop, the muscles become sore, and the patient experiences numbness and tingling in their hands, fingers, feet, and toes. It is because the muscle cells aren’t getting the right amount of oxygen. Potassium regulates blood flow in the body, and the muscles can break down when the levels are too low. Blood won’t flow to the muscles appropriately, and this is why some patents cannot move when the nutrient levels drop suddenly. Muscle constriction results from dangerously low potassium levels. Some patients experience atrophy because of low potassium levels, too.
Severe numbness and tingling require immediate medical treatment. Some symptoms of a potassium deficiency are also indicators of a heart attack. Patients who experience the numbness in their right arms or neck are advised to visit their doctor promptly. Ruling out a heart attack helps patients avoid more detrimental health crises, and it is better to go to the doctor and find out that it’s not a heart attack than to wait until it is too late.
5. Unexplained Mood Changes
Unexplained mood changes result from potassium deficiencies and cause mental fatigue. The culmination of weakness in the body and muscles affect the patient’s mood and make them feel exhausted. Research shows that at least 20% of mental patients have a potassium deficiency, and how severe the deficiency is can affect mood and mental balance. Some patients experience depression because of the sudden change in energy levels and sluggishness.
Diet changes help patients with mental illnesses and improve their mood. Doctors who discover the patient has a deficiency place the patients on a high potassium diet. Bananas, potatoes, nuts, lean meats, and milk products have high levels of potassium. Incorporating the foods into the diet improves the patient’s mood and offers more stability.
6. Severe Cramping of the Muscles
Severe cramping of the muscles occurs when the potassium levels are too low. Patients experience delayed signals from the brain to control muscle movements. Some patients in the most severe cases cannot move because of the cramping and stiffness of the muscles. Patients facing emergent situations with potassium levels experience muscle constriction and need immediate medical assistance to restore potassium levels.
Some patients assume that the cramping is because of arthritis and ignore these signs. Muscle soreness and cramping are signs of arthritis, but treating nutrient deficiency eliminates the symptoms and helps patients return to their daily routine immediately. Simple blood tests help doctors rule out arthritis and improve the patient’s mobility dramatically.
7. Muscle Pain and Stiffness
Muscle pain and stiffness result from dangerously low levels of potassium. When a patient experiences muscle pain, it is the first sign before the muscles constrict, and the patient cannot move because of their potassium levels. Sudden pain and stiffness are signs that the patient needs an immediate dose of potassium. The fastest method for getting adequate potassium without medication is to eat bananas. Experiencing discomfort and stiffness shows the patient that their potassium levels aren’t high enough. Adding more foods that are rich in potassium increases the levels and maintains them.
Doctors advise patients to schedule an appointment if the pain and stiffness aren’t manageable with OTC medications. Severe potassium deficiencies could limit mobility and prevent the patient from participating in their daily routine or exercise program. Pain and stiffness lead to muscle-related injuries due to constriction. For some patients, the damage prevents them from participating in activities they enjoy the most. Older patients could experience a fall and break bones because of the muscle stiffness. Doctors recommend following a proper diet with adequate potassium intake to reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent stiffness and pain.
8. Short of Breath
Shortness of breath can be caused by low potassium. The nutrient helps the brain stimulate lung contractions and breathing. Patients experience shortness of breath because their lungs aren’t expanding as expected. It is a correlation between the heart pumping blood adequately and the lungs expanding properly. Without proper potassium, the patient can feel dizzy or even faint when the levels are too low.
Doctors advise patients to seek medical assistance when experiencing shortness of breath. It’s serious as it can also be a sign of a heart attack or complex respiratory diseases. Patients who don’t have existing respiratory conditions, such as COPD or asthma, could be facing a more severe health crisis and need faster medical treatment. Shortness of breath often leads to chest pain and anxiety.
Patients who don’t have a known nutrient deficiency can schedule an appointment with their doctor or visit a local emergency room for immediate help. If it is determined that it is a potassium deficiency, the doctor provides pain medications for any pain and soreness with an injection of potassium.
A potassium deficiency causes less severe symptoms at first, but if the patient ignores the signs more issues emerge. The nutrient is necessary for signaling the brain and managing the respiratory system, digestion, insulin levels, and muscle performance. Critically low potassium levels create emergency circumstances and require fast medical treatment. Individuals who learn more about the signs of a potassium deficiency discover when they need to schedule an appointment with their doctor for restoring nutrient levels faster.