Symptoms Of Low Potassium Levels In Elderly – Low potassium levels can cause irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness and even paralysis. Here’s everything you want to know.

Potassium is an important electrolyte in the body and is responsible for the function of muscles, nerves and heart. Very low levels of potassium are called hypokalemia and can lead to dangerous consequences, as a person may even feel too weak to move the body, experience paralysis, faint or experience irregular heartbeat. Vomiting, diarrhea or laxative use can lead to low potassium levels, while certain medications such as diuretics, commonly used to treat high blood pressure, can also remove potassium along with excess sodium and water from the urine. (Also read: 5 Amazing Salt Substitutes to Reduce Heart Disease Risk and Add Flavor to Food)

Symptoms Of Low Potassium Levels In Elderly

Symptoms Of Low Potassium Levels In Elderly

In hypokalemia, the amount of potassium in the blood is too low. The normal levels of potassium range from 3.5 to 5.2 mEq/L (3.5 to 5.2 mmol/L). Anything lower than 3 mEq/L (3 mmol/L) can be considered severe hypokalemia. While mild cases of hypokalemia are asymptomatic, dangerously low potassium levels require medical attention.

Emergency Treatment Algorithm For Hypokalaemia In Adults.

“Low potassium levels, also known as hypokalemia, occur when the level of potassium in the serum falls below the normal range of 3.5-5 meq/l. Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes in the body that has a direct role in proper functioning of heart muscle, skeletal muscle and intestinal activity. Low potassium levels can lead to disturbances in these functions because of its role in normal cell function,” said Dr. Kamal Verma, Senior Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.

“A significant drop in potassium levels, especially in people with heart disease, can result in irregular heart rhythms. This can make you feel dizzy or faint. A low potassium level can even cause your heart to stop beating. Potassium is needed for to maintain your muscles, neurons, and heart functioning properly. Potassium is also necessary for a healthy digestive system and bone health. Potassium deficiency can impair these vital bodily activities. Low potassium levels in the body can cause irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, and even paralysis over time,” Dr. Puneet Bhuwania, consultant nephrologist and transplant physician at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road.

Signs and symptoms of low potassium depend on the severity of the hypokalemia. Mild cases are usually asymptomatic, ie. when potassium is 3-3.5 meq/l, or unless the patient is either elderly or has other serious medical problems such as chronic kidney disease or heart failure. Symptoms usually occur when serum K levels fall below 3.0 meq/l.

Acute diarrhoea, persistent or recurrent episodes of vomiting, excess loss through the kidneys, medication – diuretics (commonly given to treat hypertension and heart failure), use of excess laxatives for constipation.

Hyperkalemia: Causes And Risk Factors

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Newsletters, alerts and recommendations Get personalized news and exciting offers Bookmark the stories you want to read. You can find potassium in bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, tuna, nuts and many more. Seniors need an adequate level of potassium in their diet to be healthy. However, too much or too little potassium can be dangerous for seniors. Therefore, it is important for you as a caregiver to understand the causes and symptoms to help your elderly relative manage their potassium levels. But first, let’s look at what exactly a safe or normal potassium level is for a senior.

In general, a normal potassium level for a senior is 3.5-5.0 grams per liters of blood. It can vary from person to person, but this is a good baseline to shoot for. If you suspect your senior’s potassium levels are low, it’s worth checking their blood levels regularly at your local hospital lab.

Symptoms Of Low Potassium Levels In Elderly

A doctor prescribes a medicine to remove excess water from the body. This excess water is known as a diuretic. Due to this removal of excess water, potassium is simultaneously removed from the body. If this continues, your elderly loved one’s potassium levels will gradually drop to a dangerously low level.

High Potassium (hyperkalemia): Causes, Prevention And Treatment

Seniors who have a vomiting or diarrhea episode may experience a loss of potassium due to vomiting or diarrheal excretion. It can cause a drop in potassium levels and make your elderly relative more susceptible to cardiac arrest.

If your elderly loved one does not drink enough water to replenish the lost fluids, he will become dehydrated. It causes a low level of potassium because water is needed to absorb the mineral from consumed foods. It also removes other nutrients required by the body for optimal health. In this condition, your elderly loved one may feel thirsty as his potassium levels drop.

Seniors who do not eat healthy foods or with certain metabolic conditions can develop malnutrition. This makes it harder for them to maintain their body’s potassium levels, as they lack the nutrients to do so.

Seniors suffering from chronic kidney disease may develop low potassium levels due to the high levels of creatinine and urea in their urine. These kidney byproducts accumulate and create highly concentrated urine that is more dilute than normal and removes more minerals such as potassium.

Hyperkalemia In Adults: Review Of A Common Electrolyte Imbalance

It is not uncommon for seniors to have low potassium levels. Because of this occurrence, they are at risk of developing hypokalemia. This condition can be fatal if left untreated. Below are some of the symptoms your elderly loved one may experience if he has low potassium levels in his body:

1. Muscle weakness 2. Fatigue 3. Muscle cramps 4. Confusion 5. Constipation 6. Chest pain and shortness of breath, 7. Depression and mood swings

Although the symptoms may sound alarming, there are ways you can take to help minimize these symptoms and prevent the risk of putting your elderly loved one at risk. The following are some helpful ways to manage low potassium levels in your elderly loved one:

Symptoms Of Low Potassium Levels In Elderly

If you are a caregiver for your elderly loved one, avoid restricting their salt intake because this can put their health at risk. Instead, encourage them to eat more potassium-rich foods, such as celery, oregano and spinach. It will help increase their level of potassium in the body and prevent further complications.

Hypokalemia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, And More

Because potassium levels depend on the type of food your elderly loved one consumes. You can also help by encouraging him to eat more food to keep his potassium levels in the ideal range for optimal health. It includes natural foods such as steamed dairy products, meat, green leafy vegetables and chlorophyll proteins.

Water is the best way to replenish body fluids. It also helps hydrate the kidneys and other organs in the body, thus helping your elderly loved one maintain their potassium levels. So make sure he stays hydrated 24/7 by giving him plenty of water to drink all the time, especially while he’s sleeping.

If you notice that your elderly loved one is experiencing muscle cramps, chest pain, and shortness of breath, it’s time to visit your doctor because this could be a sign of a heart attack. So make sure you call the doctor and find that your potassium level is too low and he can recommend medication and diet and lifestyle changes that will help improve the level.

If your elderly loved one has low potassium levels and you are the family caregiver, you may find it a bit challenging to take care of their needs at times. In this case, it is a good idea to consider senior care services from a professional care provider like Serenity Senior Care to take care of your elderly loved one’s needs without you having to worry about them. In addition, the support of a professional senior care service will remove the responsibility of getting your elderly relative engaged in activities and providing first aid if he has an emergency.

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A high level of potassium in the body is also known as hyperkalemia. There are three main reasons for this condition:

This is the most common cause of high potassium levels in seniors. Seniors who have a lot of potassium-rich food can develop hyperkalemia if they don’t digest it properly. For example, if your elderly loved one has kidney disease or difficulty swallowing solid foods, he may accidentally ingest large amounts of potassium that can lead to hyperkalemia.

Some prescription drugs that your elderly loved one may be taking, such as heart disease medications, can cause high potassium levels to rise in his body.

Symptoms Of Low Potassium Levels In Elderly

Seniors who have poor circulation or are physically inactive are more likely to develop high potassium levels. This is because the kidneys are not getting enough oxygen to their tissues, leading to kidney failure.

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The symptoms of high potassium levels in seniors depend on the degree of their condition. For example, if your elderly loved one has mild potassium hyperkalemia, he may experience symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

But if there are high

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