Maintaining optimal potassium levels is rarely considered when planning our healthy lifestyles. This should not be the case as potassium is an important mineral, necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies. In fact, Potassium is one of the most abundant minerals found in the body. Potassium is actually one of the essential minerals found in blood. It is called an electrolyte. As an electrolyte, potassium enables cells to generate a spike of electrical discharge. This is critical for important body functions like heart function, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission, to occur.
Without the optimal level of potassium stored in your body, you are likely to develop hypokalemia, a chronic condition. Potassium deficiency can be triggered by a number of things, but there are a few prevalent causes. For instance, dehydration or frequent diarrhea can deplete your body’s potassium reserves. Potassium deficiency can also be caused by certain prescription medications, like diuretics. A diet that lacks foods rich in potassium is also a common culprit. Yogurt, broccoli, sweet potatoes, fish, beef, and bananas are a few potassium-rich foods.
Despite the cause, however, low potassium levels can be harmful to your quality of life. The symptoms may be mild at first, but without restoring your potassium levels they will worsen and lower your general well-being. In severe cases, some symptoms can even be fatal. For this reason, it is important that you recognize the signs of potassium deficiency. To guide you, here is a list of ten common indications that you may need to be tested for hypokalemia.
Potassium plays a part in each heartbeat, over one hundred thousand times a day. For the heart to function in an efficient way, it requires a normal supply of electrolytes. Potassium, one of the main electrolytes, helps trigger your heart to squeeze blood throughout your body. Potassium allows your heart to beat in a regular and healthy pattern. Hence, irregular potassium levels can result in the weakening of your heart muscle, and irregular heartbeat patterns. As your body’s levels of potassium drop below the optimal level, your heart rate will increase and result in heart palpitations.
Irregular heartbeat is one of the more unnerving symptoms resulting from potassium deficiency. Palpitations can manifest in numerous forms but are more often associated with the feeling of skipping a heartbeat. They may also occur as a very strong or racing heartbeat. Palpitations are common and can be caused by various other factors, besides potassium deficiency.
Owing to these range of causes, insufficient potassium levels are often overlooked as the cause. By immediately ruling out potassium deficiency as a cause, you leave room for serious consequences. For instance, some types of irregular heartbeat patterns can increase the risk of having a stroke. Hence, it is advised that continuous episodes of heart palpitations be reported to a doctor.
The doctor will most likely gather more information with an ECG. After having electrodes attached to your chest, you will need to carry a recording device with you for approximately one to three days. The doctor will use the recording to analyze your heartbeat and determine whether there is any potential harm to your well-being.