Hypokalemia is a term that refers to abnormally low levels of potassium in the bloodstream.
Signs and symptoms of hypokalemia may not be present in mild cases. As the potassium level drops further to low levels, symptoms can occur. In this case, symptoms can include
- muscle cramps,
- twitching, and
- abnormal rhythms of the heart (arrhythmias).
In severe cases of low potassium levels, paralysis and respiratory failure may occur.
Causes of hypokalemia
This is usually caused by conditions that lead to excessive potassium loss through the kidneys or from the gastrointestinal tract. Examples of conditions that can cause hypokalemia include
- colon polyps,
- hormonal imbalances such as elevated corticosteroid levels, and
- diuretic medication use.
Some medications can also cause hypokalemia.
Other hypokalemia symptoms and signs
- Abnormal Rhythms of the Heart (Arrhythmias)
- Muscle Cramps
- Respiratory Failure