Potassium helps regulate our health, from blood pressure to nervous system function. This essential mineral is also crucial to balancing fluids and regulating muscle contractions. Not surprisingly, then, maintaining healthy levels of potassium is vital to your overall well-being.
When your potassium levels are lower than normal, they typically result in a certain set of symptoms. Being aware of these symptoms will better enable you to identify any potential issues. If you're experiencing symptoms of potassium deficiency, talk to your doctor to find out if you should be increasing your consumption of this mineral.
Feeling weak or fatigued is typically the earliest warning sign of a potassium deficiency. Because potassium plays such a critical role in muscle health, low levels of this mineral can lead to weaker muscle contractions. These weakened contractions often accompany feelings of fatigue.
Low potassium can also negatively impact the way your body processes the nutrients it relies on to perform a variety of everyday functions. If you aren't properly absorbing these nutrients, you may feel weaker or more exhausted than usual.
If low potassium levels have led to muscle weakness and this symptom persists, it may also cause muscle cramps or spasms. Muscle cramps are sudden, involuntary muscle contractions that can be annoying or acutely painful. They can also put you in danger of a fall or dropping something heavy that can cause other damage.
Potassium is also responsible for regulating the muscle contractions that control digestion. If you have a potassium deficiency, these contractions will become slower and weaker. You might begin to experience bloating or constipation as a result.
It's worth noting that digestive troubles, like many of these symptoms, can be a sign of numerous underlying health issues. If you aren't sure whether the root cause is low potassium, talk to your doctor. Depending on what digestive problems you're experiencing, they may recommend some dietary changes, medications, or other treatments to help alleviate your symptoms.
It's common knowledge that too much sodium can raise blood pressure. However, a lesser-known fact is that potassium plays a key part in regulating blood pressure. Studies have even shown that a healthy balance of potassium can help reduce the blood pressure-raising effect of sodium.
Potassium aids in the waste removal process. Your kidneys remove waste through urine, including any excess sodium you consume. If you don't have enough potassium in your body, this can hamper the waste removal process. As a result, your bloodstream will end up reabsorbing the excess sodium, as it has nowhere else to go. This can lead to high blood pressure over time.
Potassium is part of an overarching system that regulates heart function. When potassium flows through your heart cells, it helps you maintain a normal heartbeat. If there isn't enough potassium entering and leaving your cells, it can cause arrhythmia—abnormal heart rhythms.
If you're experiencing any heart-related problems, see a medical professional as soon as possible. While an abnormal heartbeat may be a result of low potassium, there could be a host of other underlying issues at play. It's best to rule out any other causes before you treat a potassium deficiency.
Tingling and numbness are often associated with high levels of potassium. However, it's also possible to experience these symptoms if you're deficient in potassium. This mineral is essential to healthy nervous system function, and low levels may weaken your nerve signals, triggering numbness or tingling.
This symptom usually develops in the arms, legs, hands, or feet and can be very persistent. While occasional numbness or tingling is nothing to be alarmed about, repeated occurrences may be a sign of a deficiency.
Potassium helps facilitate the removal of waste in the urine. It also enables you to maintain well-balanced levels of fluids and electrolytes. When your potassium levels are lower than normal, it can cause your blood's electrolyte levels to become unstable. This may lead to more frequent urination as well as heightened thirst.
Keep in mind that increased urination can also cause your potassium levels to drop. If you've already noticed that you've been making more frequent trips to the bathroom, it's a good idea see a doctor to identify or rule out any issues. Leaving the problem unaddressed can cause an even more severe deficiency over time.
One of the key muscles that potassium helps regulate is the diaphragm. Your diaphragm aids your lungs in inhaling and exhaling air. If you have a potassium deficiency, this can impair your diaphragm's normal functioning, which directly impacts your lungs. As a result, you might experience difficulty breathing.
Be sure to carefully monitor your breathing patterns if you think you might be potassium deficient. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, be sure to address it immediately. This can help determine the root cause, whether it's low potassium or another medical issue.
In some cases, low levels of potassium can make you feel faint or lightheaded. This is typically a result of the irregular heartbeat often associated with potassium deficiency. Heart irregularities can also be another cause of weakness or fatigue.
While lightheadedness may occur from time to time in less severe cases of low potassium or due to other factors, more serious deficiency usually causes more frequent instances. Because faintness can both point to a more serious health issue and put you in danger of falls or other accidents, talk to a doctor if you're lightheaded more than just once in a while.
If your energy levels have been lower than normal due to potassium deficiency, it may begin to affect your mental health. Persistent exhaustion and weakness, as well as other symptoms if the cause is still unclear, can lead to feelings of helplessness and depression.
A mental health professional can help address depression or other psychological symptoms. When combined with a treatment plan for getting potassium back to its normal level, this can help you start feeling better all around.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.