Patient Comments: Low Potassium (Hypokalemia) - Diagnosis

How was the diagnosis of your low potassium (hypokalemia) established?

Comment from: toby12, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 08

I have had problems with my potassium levels since my early 20s I am now 69. Two years ago a nephrologist told me that I have Gitelman syndrome where the electrolytes, potassium, magnesium, sodium are lost in the urine. V-8 juice has really saved me because I can't take the potassium pills. It took me most of my life to convince the doctors that I was losing my potassium. Gitelman syndrome can start when a person is around 6 years of age, with severe leg cramps, which I had. I believe it is responsible for my heart problems ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation. Find a doctor that specializes in electrolyte issues - it generally falls under kidney issues - my nephrologist is a specialist in electrolyte issues.

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Comment from: kaley3646, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

I am 32 years old and have been experiencing these very same symptoms. I went to E.R thinking I was having a heart attack got an E.K.G done along with all the other fun tests I really couldn't understand what the problem was. I went to my general doctor and was told to go on insulin for my diabetes and that I have low potassium. I'm laying in bed after an extremely long day (I wake up at 7:30a.m to go to college and at night I work till midnight) and even though I'm tired it's now 2:40 and I still can't sleep because of the pain in my feet and or legs. I really had no idea about low potassium which is bad because I'm doing my general education to major in medical. Thank you VERY much to anyone who posts on here and anyone associated with this being online. Knowledge/Experience is power and it's wonderful to hear firsthand what people go through.

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Comment from: Tami, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

I just got back from the emergency room. For about a week I have been having heart palpitations and a racing heart. I thought I was having panic attacks for the past week. I just did not feel normal. I actually felt like I was going crazy. I didn't know what was wrong with me but I knew that I wasn't me. This morning while walking the dog my legs felt like they were detached from my body. I took a shower and thought of getting ready for work. Instead I asked my husband to take me to the emergency room. They were very thorough. They performed various blood work, hooked me up to a heart monitor, gave me a chest x-ray. They discovered that I may be dehydrated so they gave me fluids. More importantly they found that my potassium was low so they gave me some pills and a prescription and released me. I do not know what caused this. I have been taking blood pressure medicine for some time so I don't know how it could be related to the diuretic effect of those. The only other thing that has been different in the past week before all this started was that I was taking OTC allergy medicine for several days. I have a follow up appointment with my primary to discuss this more.

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Comment from: Luna, 45-54 Female Published: December 01

I began having episodes of blood pressure readings of 130/90, which is high for me. One day, I felt absolutely terrible. My heart was racing, I had flushing on my face, arms, and legs, and my blood pressure was 128/100! I drove myself to the doctor where they performed an EKG and immediately admitted me into the hospital. I had lots of blood work taken, and they found that my potassium was very low. A potassium IV was inserted, which was painful. Now, a potassium pill keeps my levels normal. I had been experiencing flushing and heart palpitations for a while. This began after several bad episodes of overheating and sweating. My heart doctor could find no other reason for my low potassium except for the overheating. I am now on Lopressor and still on potassium.

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Comment from: 1976, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 21

My hypokalemia started with weak legs. I couldn't hold myself upright. I had nerve tests run, an MRI, and CAT scans. Finally, one morning, I woke up and was paralyzed. People would call me, and I couldn't even answer the phone. I lived alone and called out when I heard people, but no one responded. My girlfriend came over when she heard I didn't go to work or answer my phone. That's when I was transported to the hospital, and a complete workup was done on me. That's when I found out that I had low potassium. After oral and IV treatment, I was able to move my arm the next day. At the end of three days, I could move my legs, but I still had no strength. Finally, after 10 days, I could walk but with a walker. It has been four years now, and I can walk but not run or carry heavy stuff. I am taking anti-depressants, and one of the side effects is excessive sweating. Until I get off my anti-depressants, I will have to continue to take potassium pills.

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Low Potassium - Symptoms and Signs Question: What are your hypokalemia symptoms and signs?
Low Potassium (Hypokalemia) - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatments were recommended after being diagnosed with low potassium?
Low Potassium (Hypokalemia) - Prevention Question: If you have low potassium, in what ways do you try to prevent it?

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