Any information or statement present in this post does not replace your health care provider’s advice or treatment. This blog does not provide medical advice, prescribe medications or therapies, or diagnose conditions, it only expresses an opinion. If you have a health-related question or condition, confer with your healthcare provider.
This post appeared here, as part of a series. The author is the same. The series was published as an ebook, which you can find in Amazon Kindle format and Apple Books Format.
As it has been shown in the book, hypokalemia can be caused by multiple pathophysiological processes. With the expertise of the internist and the nephrologist, the actual mechanism of disease will be determined in order to provide the most adequate treatment. Hypokalemia is a very common condition and fortunately it is easily diagnosed while the patient is in the hospital. Problems occur when the patient allows too much time before seeking medical advice and delays medical care.
The changes happening in the body as a consequence of hypokalemia are mostly related to the conduction of electrical impulses in the muscles and nerves. They have their most significant consequences in the heart because cardiac arrhythmias or even cardiac arrest can occur. Severe and sudden muscle weakness, such as the paralysis seen in hypokalemic periodic paralysis, can also be life threatening.
The treatment of hypokalemia can be as simple as providing oral supplements and as complicated as a surgical procedure for an adrenal tumor in primary hyperaldosteronism. The decision on how to treat the potassium deficiency is based on the history of the disease process, the physical findings and the expertise of the treating physician. There is one condition that has to be kept always in mind: It is the refeeding syndrome (RS). This entity may occur if a poorly nourished patient, such as someone with anorexia, receives food, specially through a feeding tube or parenteral nutrition.
Read the other sections of this series:
What Causes Hypokalemia? A
What Causes Hypokalemia? B
What Causes Hypokalemia? C
How Common is Hypokalemia?
What Happens When Someone Has Hypokalemia?
Signs and Symptoms of Hypokalemia
Diagnosis and Tests Used in Hypokalemia
Treatment of Hypokalemia