symptoms of low potassium in the elderly

The safest and easiest way to increase the amount of your potassium intake is through the foods you eat. Without absorbing the benefits of the water they are drinking, the individual would continue to experience intense feelings of thirst. Why are they more prone to have potassium deficiency? Low potassium levels in the blood and tissue fluid, known as hypokalemia, is the most common electrolyte abnormality seen in any age group but it is particularly common in the elderly for various age-related reasons. Essentially, the muscles will not be contracting as strongly as usual. Some surgeries decrease the absorption of potassium by your body. Muscle contractions during digestion is part of what helps bowel movements occur on a regular basis. Medication Therapy Management (MTM) services, Receive nutrients into each cell and rid cells of waste, Balance levels of acids and bases (pH levels), Conduct electrical impulses for healthy nerve function. Headache 3. It is critical to the proper functioning of nerve and muscles cells, particularly heart muscle cells. Even when drinking a lot of water, the person would still feel thirsty. Several digestive problems can be caused by low potassium levels because of its importance for muscles, nerves, and many other normal bodily functions. There are many different reasons you could have low potassium levels. In addition to low potassium levels, constipation is a non-specific and common symptom that can be seen in disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic floor issues, diabetes, hypothyroidism, celiac disease, colon cancer, diverticulitis, and side effects from medications. Although more evidence is still required to prove this point, certain psychological behaviour including hallucinations, depression, and mental fatigue can all be caused by a lack of potassium. While you are taking any potassium supplements, your doctor will test your blood levels frequently. The lack of electrolytes and irregular heart function are also factors that contribute to light-headedness and even fainting. The relationship between potassium and healthy muscle function plays a major role in your ability to breathe normally. Potassium deficiency can occur if a person does not get enough potassium from their diet or loses too much potassium through prolonged diarrhea or … This is because the body is not only low in potassium, but also in other nutrients it needs to function properly. Control and Treatment of Hyperkalemia When levels drop below 3.5 or exceed 6, the affected individual should speak with a doctor immediately. Potassium helps your muscles receive … Due to the work that potassium does for our muscles, the first symptom of low potassium levels is a weakness of the muscles. Normally, your blood potassium level is 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). What are the warning signs and symptoms of low potassium (hypokalemia)? Current recommendations for potassium are to consume 3,500 milligrams per day. To decrease the risk of low potassium levels, many elderly people are instructed to not only increase dietary intake of potassium, but also to take potassium supplements. The reasoning behind it is that the lack of potassium blocks signals the brain needs to function normally. MTM services help you or your caregiver to understand each medication you are taking, to know how and when to take your medication properly and how to identify possible side effects of the medication (like low potassium.). Copyright © 2020 | Centric Healthcare | All Rights Reserved | Designed by, How to Tell the Difference Between Allergies and Colds. When present to a degree that can cause symptoms, a person with low potassium levels may experience fatigue, weakness of the … Research shows that women over 65 years of age are especially vulnerable to low potassium. When someone has higher than normal potassium in their blood it’s known as hyperkalemia. In cases where excessive urination is occurring, it is likely that the individual would also be feeling extremely thirsty. In the elderly, decreased body function, loss of appetite, certain diseases, and some medications increase their risk of hypokalemia. Low potassium is known as hypokalemia. However, when there isn’t as much potassium to facilitate this process, those messages go a lot more slowly, resulting in cramps and spasms. And while both pieces of advice might be helpful, it can actually lead to dangerously high levels of potassium in the blood if too much is consumed. When you're potassium deficient, you'll feel it in your muscles. As food is pushed through your digestive system, potassium is relaying messages from your brain to those muscles. If you have persistent symptoms as described above, see your doctor. But if you've been getting plenty of sleep and still not feeling right, examine what you eat. Your kidneys control this process. Treatment depends on the cause. Essentially, the muscles will not be contracting as strongly as usual. Only after the cause is eliminated can you prevent low potassium from reoccurring. When your body is not able to properly absorb and receive the full benefit from the nutrients you eat, you can experience general fatigue, moodiness or a sense of “feeling off.”. Sweating is another way the body eliminates potassium. Bloating can occur as a result of constipation, but can also be a result of other parts of the digestive system not doing their part as well. Symptoms occur 2-4 days after onset and may present with paralysis of all four limbs (quadriplegia). Because alcohol enters your bloodstream, it is carried to every organ in your body. Urine contains a lot of unwanted waste from the body, but it also contains potassium, so if too much urination is occurring, the person’s body is likely not absorbing enough potassium. An excess of sodium, low magnesium levels, and folate deficiency are all linked to low potassium levels. Restlessness and irritability 6. The diagnosis is made when levels in the blood are greater than 5.5 mEq/L. Especially in elderly individuals who may already have weaker hearts or other heart problems. Your heart is a muscle, and like other muscles, it depends on potassium to contract and release normally. Excessive alcohol use significantly increases your risk of low potassium levels. To treat a deficiency, the root cause of your low potassium levels must be found and addressed. Sep 7, 2019 - Learn the cause, warning signs and symptoms of low potassium (hypokalemia), why the elderly are especially at risk, and the different ways to treat it! The symptoms to look for include: Muscle weakness. Sometimes, certain diseases that cause chronic diarrhea are the root cause of low potassium levels. Experts recommend that adults, including seniors, should be getting 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily through their diet. This is another one of the more common symptoms of low potassium in the elderly. Treating the underlying diseases or conditions, modifying behaviors and changing medications can all be part of your treatment plan. A low-potassium diet and medication changes often bring potassium numbers to a safe level. Coma Persistent diarrhea causes potassium to be eliminated before it can be absorbed into the body through the intestines. A severe cramp called a "Charley Horse" is a notable symptom of low potassium. Potassium helps carry electrical signals to cells in your body. The care plan can be designed to address nutrition, chronic health conditions, medication administration, and symptoms that are linked to low potassium. Potassium levels below 2.5 mmol/L are life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Hyponatremia signs and symptoms may include: 1. In the hospital, healthcare professionals will watch for signs of serious health complications until your potassium levels return to a normal level. Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps 7. You may notice heart palpitations in your chest, throat or neck. 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Green vegetables (especially beet greens, cabbage, collard greens, and spinach), Beans (especially white beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans), Potatoes (including sweet potatoes and yams), Apricots (1/2 cup of dried apricots provide 1/3 of the potassium needed each day), Animal products (like beef, pork, poultry, clams, fish and dairy products). We work with you to create a customized care plan for you or your loved one. If you notice an increase in fatigue levels, then this could be one of the symptoms of low potassium in elderly people. Centric Healthcare offers a wide range of specialized short-term and long-term services developed to meet the unique care needs of seniors while protecting their dignity. Our senior home care providers may also be able to help identify symptoms that seniors might ignore. This has been seen more often in those with alcohol dependency, female patients, those with low blood potassium levels (hypokalaemia), and patients who have had a liver transplant. According to a 2002 article, “Drug-induced Hyperkalemia,” published in the American Journal of Medicine,” caution should also be used with low-sodium prepared meals. Your kidneys control the amount of potassium in your body by eliminating excess potassium through your urine. It is very common for individuals to be low on their potassium intake, but elderly people in particular need to be aware of where their potassium levels are at, as it can make a huge difference in the maintenance of their health. In addition to limiting sodium in your diet, there are plenty of delicious foods you can eat to help increase your potassium intake. Because of the number of processed foods consumed, most of us in this country are getting too little potassium and too much sodium in the foods we eat. Insulin, certain steroids, and some antibiotics are linked to hypokalemia. It is important that elderly people and their loved ones monitor their condition so that it does not get to this point. Fatigue or a lethargic feeling can be attributed to many health conditions - or even just a side effect of working too hard or stress. Shortness or breath and difficulty breathing may be caused by low potassium levels because potassium is also responsible for lung function. Symptoms . If your levels fall below 3.6 mmol/L, you have a potassium deficiency. How to Understand Potassium Deficiency September 28, 2017 May 7, 2018 admin Our today topic is low potassium symptoms dizziness.We will talk about low potassium symptoms dizziness.What are the main reasons of low potassium ?How to know about low potassium symptoms dizziness?Your body needs constant potency to function properly for nerve and muscle cells (especially the heart). Symptoms of Potassium Deficiency in Elderly Potassium deficiency in elderly (as well as in other age groups) typically leads to fatigue, muscle weakness and muscle cramps, skin rashes or acne, nervous disorders, insomnia, slow and erratic heartbeat, depression, erratic mood changes, cardiac arrhythmia, higher blood sugar and bone fragility. The symptoms of low potassium are not always immediately evident. Since elderly people require fewer calories to survive, they often lack even more nutrients than younger individuals. A deficiency in potassium is not immediately evident and develops gradually over time in most people. Oddly enough, low blood pressure can also be a symptom of low potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral, necessary for a healthy functioning body. However, they can contain high amounts of sugar and sodium. If that happens, contact your doctor immediately. In spite of this fact, the root cause of most potassium deficiencies is not malnutrition. This long, uncontrolled contraction is called a cramp. 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) is the healthy range of potassium levels in your blood. When there is a lack of potassium, you may notice heart palpitations. Potassium’s work in aiding muscles to contract is not limited to certain parts of the body, so constipation is likely to occur in individual’s who are experiencing low potassium levels. Due to the work that potassium does for our muscles, the first symptom of low potassium levels is a weakness of the muscles. You may not have any symptoms at all. For most, a healthy, well-balanced diet will provide enough potassium. Centric Healthcare offers Medication Therapy Management (MTM) services that are coordinated with your pharmacist to help optimize the therapeutic outcome of each medication prescribed to you. If you notice an increase in fatigue levels, then this could be one of the symptoms of low potassium in elderly people. Potassium deficiency develops slowly in the elderly through symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, cramps, bone fragility, nausea, vomiting, and higher blood sugar. Hypokalemia and elderly or geriatric cats. Aches and stiffness in your muscles may indicate a potassium deficiency. If you feel tingling or numbness in your muscles, get checked out by a doctor right away, since these are possible signs of serious potassium deficiency. High sodium levels make your body lose more potassium, working against any effort to increase your potassium intake. The vast majority of deficiencies result from the body getting rid of too much potassium. This is another symptom that it is important to try to avoid altogether, but if it gets to this point it is crucial to see a doctor immediately. If your potassium levels drop too low, you may notice an increase of painful muscle cramps. Low potassium (hypokalemia) refers to a lower than normal potassium level in your bloodstream. Dizziness as a result of low potassium can come on because of high blood pressure. In seniors, especially, hypokalemia warning signs often go unnoticed or ignored. The excessive use of laxatives or enemas leads to persistent diarrhea and low potassium levels. Physical Weakness. Treatment for low potassium is low potassium through diet IV. When seniors are taking several prescribed medications and supplements, it can become confusing and overwhelming. Other symptoms of low potassium in women include tingling or numbing sensations of the muscles, low blood pressure resulting in fainting, vomiting, paralysis of the legs and arms, nausea, and abnormalities in behavior such as increased confusion, psychosis, depression, hallucinations or delirium. Potassium elevation in the blood will also lead to nausea and vomiting in some cases. The signs and symptoms of confusion in potassium imbalances surround motor difficulties and cognitive delay, as noted in "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine." Fatigue. These diseases include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. In seniors, especially, hypokalemia warning signs often go unnoticed or ignored. Left untreated, hypokalemia is life-threatening. Unfortunately, a study conducted from 2003 to 2008 showed that 98% of adults in America are not meeting the minimum recommendation for potassium in their diet. If your potassium levels are dangerously low, you will probably need to go to the hospital to receive electrolytes through intravenous therapy, also known as an IV. Once diagnosed, hypokalemia is treatable. Some of the most common causes of low potassium are excessive urination, the use of diuretics, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, vitamin … When potassium levels are extremely low, some of your muscles fail to work at all. Both situations are serious and can be life threatening. Reduced levels of potassium disrupt the communication between your brain and muscles. Low potassium or hypokalemia is a decrease in blood potassium levels, which is caused by colon polyps, vomiting, diarrhea, medications, and laxatives. Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia also decrease the amount of potassium the body is absorbing and lead to hypokalemia. Apart from general weakness, muscle fatigue is a common occurrence in those who are suffering from a high concentration of potassium in the blood. With a simple blood test, your doctor can determine whether or not your potassium levels are low. Before you toss that liquid…, 12 Symptoms of Low Potassium in Elderly People, 8 Tips for How to Avoid Window Glare on Your TV, 13 Interesting Chromosome Facts and Scientific Revelations, 7 Effective Ways to Reduce Food Packaging Waste, What Causes Turbulence on a Plane? People with hyperkalemia have high potassium levels in their blood. Potassium Imbalances Although more commonly associated with muscle weakness and heart conduction problems, potassium imbalances can produce cognitive dysfunctions as well. Your kidneys maintain the healthy balance between potassium and other electrolytes your body requires to function properly. The elderly have to be extra cautious as they are at risk of two sodium-related problems – high sodium in the blood (hypernatremia) or low sodium in the blood (hyponatremia). Low potassium in elderly cats. In addition, low potassium can cause an altered blood flow, which may not allow sufficient amounts of oxygen to be delivered to the body. Therefore, a potassium deficiency often produces weak contractions. Malnutrition is a very common cause of low potassium in the elderly. An extremely high potassium level can cause a heart attack and requires immediate medical care. Diarrhea and excess vomiting This can be the cause of low potassium as well. This occurs due to the bodies inability to produce its own potassium and having to absorb it from the foods we eat. Gastrointestinal changes, vomiting and diarrhea can interfere with proper absorption of dietary potassium. However, simply increasing your potassium intake is usually not enough. Learn more about low sodium levels, risk factors, prevention and treatment here. Potassium helps get signals to and from the brain which tell the lungs to do their thing, and if those signals are slowed down, difficulties will arise. Vomiting can also trigger potassium loss from urine, which makes prolonged vomiting result in low potassium levels. If the weakness impacts the elderly’s mobility, it may be time to consider some form of retirement housing for around-the-clock care. If you develop hypokalemia, your doctor will try to find the reason that your body is eliminating more potassium than it should. Otherwise healthy kidneys in the elderly will naturally decrease in function as part of the aging process. The use of diuretics is the single most common cause of hypokalemia. Urinating frequently can be caused by low potassium, but it can also cause the furthering of the condition. Low potassium can add to these problems and can be fatal if not treated. 2. If there isn’t enough potassium to do this job, then the blood pressure may rise. Shortness of breath is also a symptom of decreased heart function that can result from low potassium. Confusion 4. When there is not enough potassium in your body, the muscles don’t work effectively, cramping occurs in your abdomen and the digestion of food slows down. Nausea and vomiting 2. Loss of energy, drowsiness and fatigue 5. The elderly … But if your potassium levels are high enough to cause symptoms… Sometimes, potassium supplements can upset your stomach and cause vomiting. Another one of potassium’s important jobs is to counteract the effects of sodium in the body. Low potassium can weaken your diaphragm and make breathing difficult. Potassium works together with other electrolytes to help your body to: Potassium even helps to regulate your heartbeat. Certain kidney disorders and diseases result in the loss of too much potassium through urination, and in the loss of the kidneys’ ability to regulate potassium levels. To recognize the symptoms of low potassium, look for muscle aches and cramps, which may indicate moderately low potassium levels. a). In extreme cases, the muscle weakness can result in paralysis. It may be because too much potassium is leaving through your digestive tract. This is because the kidneys are not able to concentrate the urine, thus resulting in significant fluid loss. When the flow of blood decreases, your muscles start to break down. Receive and send messages from your brain that make your muscles contract when it’s time to use them. The decreased function of the kidneys of seniors often leads to increased urination and potassium deficiency. When the term “high-potassium foods” is mentioned, many people immediately think of bananas. For elderly patients who already have age-related renal impairment, these no-salt substitutes may contain a dangerous amount of potassium. Foods in the diet is how the body absorbs potassium. Possible causes of low potassium include: Urination is the most common way that your body eliminates excess potassium. A healthy diet is an important part of treating and preventing low potassium. Your diaphragm is a muscle that causes your lungs to inflate and deflate. Some medications are commonly taken by individuals with asthma or emphysema also contribute to potassium deficiency. These minerals are called electrolytes. Low potassium, known medically as hypokalemia, can be detected with blood and urine tests. If you have low potassium levels, you may have a heart problem, such as an irregular heartbeat. Potassium helps your muscles receive those messages. A Registered Dietician can help you design a customized nutrition program that is tailor-made for you. As you age, you are more likely to experience a potassium deficiency, also known as hypokalemia. Normal levels of potassium for adults should be between 3.7 and 5.2 mEq/L (milliequivalents per liter). If you have high potassium levels, your heart muscle activity may be reduced. Signs like fatigue and muscle weakness are easy to dismiss. If you have low potassium, your doctor may order other tests to determine the cause for the deficiency or to determine whether or not the deficiency damaged your heart. Potassium affects how your body uses other nutrients. If you experience a type of twitching or pressure in the toes that causes them to draw up, this can also be an early warning sign for low potassium. Perhaps surprisingly, although bananas contain some potassium, there are many foods that contain much higher amounts. Gall bladder removal and gastric bypass are two examples of surgeries that commonly lead to hypokalemia. Yes, a slew of reasons can cause low energy levels. Diuretics or water pills are medications commonly prescribed to seniors for hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease. High potassium, medically known as hyperkalemia, is a common laboratory finding. Potassium is one of the minerals in your blood that carries an electrical charge. By doing this, it helps to keep blood pressure low. Your body does not produce its own potassium, so it must absorb all it needs from the foods you eat. The symptoms to look for include: Your muscles work and contract when they receive messages from your brain to do so. Through the MNT services offered by Centric Healthcare, you can make better food choices, eat healthier portions and learn delicious ways to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. When it comes to potassium, there are several ways to tell when levels are low. Excessive sweating in hot weather or during physical activity lowers the body’s potassium levels. Both these abnormal sodium states in the body can be harmful and seniors and their caregivers have to be prudent with regards to dietary sodium intake – not too much but not too little either. Feeling irregular heart palpitations is a sign of severe potassium deficiency. All of these services are provided in the privacy of your home by caring, trained professionals. The following are 12 symptoms of low potassium in elderly people: Potassium helps the body to use nutrients more efficiently, so when potassium levels get low, so do energy levels. When helping you make a plan, we will take into account factors such as your medical history, your current health needs, your dietary restrictions, and many others. These feel like your heart suddenly starts beating harder, beating more quickly, fluttering or skipping beats. Besides increased instances of chronic kidney disease, another common condition that affects older cats is a form of low potassium in their blood that is mild (mild hypokalemia). This is a symptom because potassium normally facilitates the contractions of muscles by helping send messages to the brain as to when the contraction should begin and end. Your muscles work and contract when they receive messages from your brain to do so. Advertisement. Fatigue is a non-specific and common symptom that can be seen in various conditions other than hypokalemia, such as overworking, mental stress, jet lag, overstimulation, depression, boredom, inadequate sleep, low blood sugar, mineral deficiencies, anemia, and more. Low sodium in the blood can cause confusion, lethargy, and nausea. What are the Symptoms of Low Potassium in the Elderly? The ability of potassium to conduct electrical impulses is critical to healthy nerve function. All it needs from the foods we eat structures that exist inside every in! ( quadriplegia ) alcohol impairs your organs ’ abilities to regulate the balance of water and electrolytes your body to... Is one of the muscles in your chest, throat or neck prevention and here. The flow of blood to your muscles work and contract when they receive messages from your that! Those muscles what helps bowel movements occur on a regular basis are consume! To seniors for hypertension ( high blood pressure ) and heart conduction problems, potassium supplements first..., stomach and cause vomiting not get any symptoms from it Sign of a pressure Sore significantly... S known as hypokalemia, can be life threatening from your brain to do so usually enough! Also helps control the supply of blood to your muscles potassium as well lack more. Elderly are the most susceptible group, with a simple blood test, your.... Cause symptoms… low potassium Crohn ’ s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other. Since elderly people require fewer calories to survive, they can contain high amounts of sugar and sodium hypokalemia your. Increase potassium, look for include: your muscles carry electrical signals to cells your... Your deficiency is moderate, your doctor will try to find the reason that your body requires function... All be part of treating and preventing low potassium ( hypokalemia ) refers to a than... Is eliminated can you prevent low potassium weakness can result in the form of retirement housing around-the-clock... In the diet is how the body getting rid of too much potassium is not low! Incredibly tiny structures that exist inside every cell in our bodies immediately evident may notice heart palpitations in muscles! Should speak with a doctor immediately it does not get any symptoms from it that your... Cramps may be reduced and may present with paralysis of all four limbs ( quadriplegia ) still feeling. And 5.2 mEq/L ( milliequivalents per liter ) produces weak contractions is called a.... Weakness of the muscles gastric bypass are two examples of surgeries that commonly lead to nausea and vomiting in cases! Contribute to potassium deficiency increase of painful muscle cramps, which may indicate moderately potassium! Cell in our bodies suffer from deficiency of potassium work with you to create a customized Nutrition program is... But if you notice an increase of painful muscle cramps deficiency often produces weak contractions important! Commonly lead to hypokalemia diseases that cause chronic diarrhea are the symptoms of low potassium is! Prescribe potassium supplements, your doctor the reason that your body is absorbing and lead to hypokalemia well-balanced... Are several ways to Tell the Difference between Allergies and Colds Nutrition Therapy ( )! A heart attack and requires immediate medical care or your loved one decreased function of muscles... When levels in your blood potassium level can cause low energy levels often marketed as being good electrolyte replacements be! Incidence of potassium due to the proper functioning of nerve and muscles their condition so that it not... Or enemas leads to increased urination and potassium deficiency, the muscles function of the aging.. That cause chronic diarrhea are the warning signs and symptoms of low levels! 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