Hypokalemia, a metabolic disorder that occurs when the level of potassium drops too low, can be detected through the presence of a number of hypokalemia symptoms. Potassium is needed for nerve and muscle cells to function properly, and most of the hypokalemia symptoms have to do with some failure of these functions due to the lack of potassium in the blood. Here are some of the most common hypokalemia symptoms.
- Dysrhythmias. Also known as abnormal heart rhythms, dysrhythmias are one of the common hypokalemia symptoms, particularly in hypokalemia sufferers that are also victims of heart disease. Like other hypokalemia symptoms, dysrhythmias result from the failure of nerve and muscle cells to function properly.
- Muscle fiber breakdown. As muscles are used improperly resulting from hypokalemia, symptoms can show the breakdown of said muscle fibers. This can also result in weakness and pain.
- Constipation. One of the more painful and embarrassing hypokalemia symptoms is constipation, the inability to move one's bowels. This too is a result of the muscle and nerve failure that results from a lack of the proper amount of potassium in the blood.
- Paralysis. The most severe of the hypokalemia symptoms is paralysis, complete nerve and muscle failure in different parts of the body. This can even include the lungs, causing failure to breathe.
These hypokalemia symptoms are often the result of the use of diuretics or the presence of an eating disorder. Mild hypokalemia symptoms can be treated with a potassium supplement taken by mouth, but more severe cases should be treated via IV.