3 ways to treat low blood potassium

3 ways to treat low blood potassium
3 ways to treat low blood potassium

The body uses potassium in many ways such as to maintain fluid balances and to support brain and heart function. Although this element is very widely present in food, many people do not absorb more than half of the dose their body needs on a daily basis. By knowing how to recognize the symptoms of a potassium deficiency and choose foods that contain a large amount of it in order to absorb enough, we can quickly return to the level of potassium in the blood to the normal level.


Method 1 of 3: Recognize the signs of potassium deficiency

Treat Low Potassium Blood Levels Step 1

Step 1. Identify the symptoms of potassium deficiency

Too low or too high a potassium level in the blood can have health consequences. When the rate is too low, it is called hypokalaemia. Among the effects of hypokalaemia are muscle weakness, abnormal heart rhythm, and mild high blood pressure. There may also be the following symptoms:

  • constipation;
  • fatigue;
  • muscle spasms;
  • muscle numbness.
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Step 2. Identify the common causes of too low potassium in your blood

There are many more or less common factors that can lead to a decrease in the level of potassium in the blood. You could suffer this harm in the following cases:

  • you have taken antibiotics;
  • you have suffered from diarrhea or vomiting;
  • you have sweated excessively;
  • you have taken too much of the laxative;
  • you have chronic kidney disease;
  • you take diuretic medicines for the heart;
  • you suffer from digestive problems;
  • your blood magnesium is too low.
Treat Low Potassium Blood Levels Step 3

Step 3. Try to look for symptoms of hyperkalemia

We speak of hyperkalaemia when the level of potassium in the blood is too high. Symptoms of this condition include nausea, a weak and irregular heartbeat, or a heartbeat that slows down to the point of causing syncope. If you experience any of these symptoms while on a high potassium diet, see your doctor as soon as possible.

The kidneys filter the excess potassium which is flushed out of the body with the urine, which is why hyperkalemia is more common in those with kidney problems and those with Addison's disease. It is also favored in those who take drugs to regulate their blood pressure and those who have hemolytic anemia or certain tumors

Method 2 of 3: Enrich your diet with potassium

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Step 1. See your doctor

If you think your blood potassium level is too low, ask your doctor for an appointment before taking any supplements or using other methods that will add potassium to your diet. Fortifying a standard diet with potassium can be counterproductive because you quickly get too much in your body. According to specialists, you should take an average of 4,700 mg of potassium per day. Your doctor will perform blood tests to determine your potassium level and may prescribe appropriate treatment depending on the results.

  • In most cases, your treatment will consist of adding potassium to your diet through the intake of dietary supplements.
  • You should then follow the recommendations that your doctor has given you to avoid adding too much potassium to your body.
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Step 2. Allow your body to naturally correct the potassium imbalance

If you have recently had ailments related to a lack of potassium, such as diarrhea, vomiting or heavy sweating due to illness or if you have recently taken antibiotics, your blood potassium level may return to normal without that you have to do anything. However, your doctor may suggest that you add potassium-rich foods to your diet to restore balance rather than prescribing dietary supplements.

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Step 3. Increase the amount of dairy products in your diet

Dairy products are among the best sources of potassium which can provide a significant amount of it in just one serving. For example, a jar of yogurt contains 580 mg of potassium and a glass (25 cl) of skimmed milk can provide up to 380 mg of potassium.

  • Prefer skimmed milk, because the fat contained in whole or semi-skimmed milk considerably increases calorie intake.
  • Avoid consuming dairy products if you are lactose intolerant. You will always be able to find many other sources of potassium.
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Step 4. Eat more fruits that are very high in potassium

Indeed, fruits can be very good sources of potassium, but you need to choose them wisely. Here are some of the amounts of the element that can be found in some fruits:

  • a medium-sized banana contains 420 mg;
  • half of papaya contains 390 mg;
  • three medium-sized apricots contain 380 mg;
  • a glass (24 cl) of cantaloupe contains 370 mg;
  • three quarters of a glass of orange juice contains 360 mg;
  • a quarter of a glass of grape juice contains 270 mg;
  • a glass of strawberries contains 250 mg.
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Step 5. Eat more vegetables rich in potassium

Fruits are not the only sources of potassium. You can absorb the amount of the element that your body needs by consuming various common vegetables. Here are some of the amounts of potassium found in some vegetables:

  • a medium-sized baked potato with its skin on contains 930 mg (610 mg without the skin);
  • a large sweet potato contains 690 mg;
  • three quarters of a glass (24 cl) of carrot juice contains 520 mg;
  • half a glass of cubes of winter squash contains 450 mg;
  • half a glass of spinach contains 420 mg;
  • three quarters of a glass of tomato juice contains 420 mg (300 mg in a large tomato);
  • a single branch of celery contains 310 mg;
  • half a glass of broccoli contains 280 mg;
  • half a glass of beetroot cubes contains 270 mg.
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Step 6. Eat more meat rich in potassium

Although meat provides less potassium than fruits and vegetables, you can get a fair amount of it by consuming it. Here are some amounts of potassium that you can absorb by consuming a 100g serving of certain meats:

  • 380 mg in chicken;
  • 290 mg in beef;
  • 260 mg in lamb;
  • 250 mg in dark turkey meat.
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Step 7. Eat seafood and fish

They are good sources of potassium. Below are the quantities that you will find in a 100 g portion of fish.

  • On average, 380 mg of potassium is obtained by consuming one serving of fish (for most varieties).
  • If you eat a serving of canned salmon or tuna, you get about 500 mg of potassium.
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Step 8. Eat fruits and pulses

Many varieties of nuts and pulses are particularly high in potassium. They are often also very good sources of protein, fiber and minerals. Here are some of the amounts of potassium in some dried fruits and vegetables:

  • half a glass (12 cl) of pinto beans contains 400 mg;
  • half a glass of cooked lentils contains 370 mg;
  • half a glass of hazelnuts (with shell) contains 340 mg;
  • a quarter of a glass of sunflower seeds contains 240 mg;
  • two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 210 mg.
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Step 9. Use molasses in your cooking recipes

Even though it's not an often-used ingredient (and yet an amazing source of nutrients), it's interesting since one tablespoon contains 500 mg of potassium. You can put it in yogurt, oatmeal, and many pastries to enrich them with potassium.

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Step 10. Know the foods that are low in potassium

In addition to knowing which ones are high in potassium, you need to identify which ones are low in potassium in order to put in place a diet that gives your body the amount it needs. Here are some of the relatively low amounts of potassium in some foods:

  • black olives do not contain any (0 mg), but they do contain a lot of sodium;
  • a tablespoon of butter contains 3 mg;
  • a 30 g serving of cheese contains 20 to 30 mg;
  • 100 g of bacon contains 45 mg, although it is a high sodium food like black olives;
  • half a glass of blueberries contains 50 mg;
  • one egg contains 55 mg;
  • a slice of bread contains 70 mg;
  • about ten medium-sized grapes contain 75 mg;
  • three quarters of a glass of pasta contains 80 mg;
  • half a glass of applesauce contains 90 mg;
  • a quarter of a glass of corn kernels contains 100 mg.

Method 3 of 3: Using medical treatments

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Step 1. Talk to your doctor about potassium replacement therapy

One of the most negative effects that low blood potassium can cause is arrhythmia, which is the medical name for an irregular heartbeat problem. Older adults and those with heart problems are more likely to have it. If your doctor thinks your blood potassium level is particularly low, they may do tests to make sure the problem isn't due to a condition like Cushing's syndrome, renal tubular acidosis, or hypocalcemia. He will also be able to confirm his first diagnosis based on the information you give him and his observations.

  • He may do blood tests to check the levels of electrolytes, glucose, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
  • If you are already taking medicines for the heart, such as digitalis (cardiotonic glycoside) to strengthen it, your doctor will need to check the level of digoxin in your blood.
  • Your doctor may also do an EKG to check for any irregularities in your heartbeat.
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Step 2. Benefit from intravenous therapy

It is intended to restore a good level of potassium. If your doctor confirms that the level of potassium in your blood is excessively low and that you have arrhythmias and other worrisome symptoms related to a lack of potassium, he or she may decide to give it to your body through an IV. The potassium is then administered very slowly under the supervision of the doctor who must make sure that it will have no harmful effects on your heart.

Your skin may be irritated where the IV needle is inserted

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Step 3. Take advantage of potassium in liquid or solid form (pills)

Your doctor should prescribe primarily supplements for you to take orally in the form of pills, solutions, or powders. Many vitamin-fortified products contain a good amount of potassium. You should stick to the dosage prescribed by your doctor to avoid taking too much or too little potassium. This will ensure that your blood potassium level stays within the correct range.

  • As your diet may provide you with too much potassium, you should consult your doctor before deciding to take any dietary supplements. Your doctor will probably do a few tests to find out how much potassium you need to supplement as well.
  • Doctors usually prescribe potassium supplements along with medicines that lower potassium levels in the blood. If your doctor has prescribed any of these medicines for you, they have probably also recommended that you take potassium supplements, even if the blood level is not outside the normal range.
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Step 4. See your doctor regularly and follow their instructions

Your doctor will likely have a lot of follow-up tests to check that the potassium level in your blood is stabilizing and that the medications he has prescribed are working as you expect. In general, follow-up lasts for 2 or 3 days after the administration of the first drug treatment.

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