Normal Potassium Levels, High, Low

Normal potassium levels in the body help maintain the condition of the tissues in the body, cells and organs and ensure that they work in optimum condition. Potassium is a mineral that sustains the electrolyte balance and keeps the fluids in the body in a state of equilibrium. As an electrolyte, it moves electricity to the muscles to improve coordination. Potassium also plays a significant role in ensuring that the heart works properly as it is also made of smooth muscles.

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Source of potassium in the diet

Potassium a vital mineral is found in various types of foods like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberry, raisins etc. Vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes and squash contain enough potassium for optimum functioning of the body. People who eat fish, chicken and red meat also get a good supply of potassium from these foods.  Milk and yogurt also contain potassium as well as protein and carbs.

It is advisable to eat potassium rich foods in moderation because eating too much of them can actually be detrimental to the body.  So, if there are patients who have kidney problems or undergoing dialysis, they should not eat potassium rich foods.   There are some other medical cases in which the healthcare provider will ask you to avoid eating potassium.

Normal Potassium levels

The normal potassium levels in the body are between 3 and to 5.5 mEq per L.  There is a particular lab test that can conclusively tell if a person has the requisite number of potassium levels.  This is known as the Potassium test, which determines if a person has high potassium levels in the body, for which he or she may need medical attention.

The Potassium Test can be included in the habitual examination when a patient is admitted to the hospital. Patients who take mediations which can influence the potassium levels in the body are also monitored to know if the levels are going high or lower than normal.  The medications that can affect normal potassium levels include diuretics.

Potassium test is common for people who have heart-related problems.  The reason why potassium test is given more emphasis in heart conditions is because the vital mineral is important to ensure that the electrical functioning of the heart is at a normal pace. Also a patient who has hypertension can also have this test in order to find out the patient’s high blood pressure levels. For people who are having kidney failure, potassium levels are important to be monitored because high potassium levels can mean more complications.

What causes high potassium levels

A condition called hyperkalemia is experienced during sudden, high potassium levels. This is when the potassium levels in the blood is more than 5.5 mEq per L.  Kidney, the organs that filters waste out of the body, also remove excess potassium that is of no use to the body. If there is high amount of potassium in the body, the kidneys become stressed and are not able to flush it out.  This condition called hyperkalemia can cause diseases like acute and chronic kidney failure and glumerulonephritis

Potassium levels low

Low potassium levels in the blood can cause hypokalemia. In this case, the person can suffer from irregular heart-rate, muscle weakness, constipation, paralysis, bradycardia etc. Difficulty in breathing is also a symptom of low potassium levels, which in serious cases can also cause lung paralysis.

If potassium levels in the body are normal, the body is able to function properly and optimally. If they become low or heavy, the person can suffer from various illnesses and symptoms.  Going for a proper diet and a medical checkup, if needed, can ensure that you are able to maintain normal potassium levels.

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