Patient Comments: Low Potassium (Hypokalemia) - Diagnosis

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

Comment from: jellybeans529, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 11

I started having shortness of breath, like I could not get enough air into my lungs. I had just started hormone progesterone 4 months earlier and thought I had too much in my system, which would cause shortness of breath. By the 10th day of shortness of breath, now followed by dizziness, tingling and cold in my hands and feet, and panic, I went to the hospital. EKG, stress test (an awful test by the way), and an echocardiogram showed nothing wrong with my heart and an ultrasound showed no blood clot. The doctor saw my potassium was down to 3.3 so she gave me 40 mg of potassium. Within 30 minutes, I was feeling better and no shortness of breath, just exhausted. I was discharged and went home. The next day, the same symptoms came on again so back to the emergency room I went. The doctor there told me that it was all in my head and to take the anti-anxiety pill he was going to give me and go home. I fought him tooth and nail and told him to draw more blood and look at my potassium levels. He didn't want to but didn't want to fight me either, so my results came back at 3.4 and he insisted that this was normal even though it was out of range. He was adamant that this 3.4 level would not cause any symptoms. I told him I wanted more potassium and I wanted to get back into range. Thirty minutes after giving me the potassium, I was much better. I was discharged and will be going to my primary doctor to get monitored and back on track. If your lab test results are out of range, don't let a doctor tell you that it is normal, you should not be having any symptoms, and it is just anxiety. Any low level can cause all kinds of problems for different people.

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Comment from: dhinny, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: June 24

I was admitted in hospital last January 20, due to hypokalemia paralysis. It started with my legs aching and lower extremities cramped. I could no longer raise my legs and my left hand. My blood pressure (BP) was 140/100. My potassium level dropped to 1.7. I was given rapid potassium and an oral pill and been under intensive care. After 4 days of admission I was released from the hospital. The diagnosis was, it was due to my hyperthyroidism. Just a week ago, I was again admitted to the hospital due to shortness of breath and a minor chest pain, my lower extremities got weaker and it ached. I knew my potassium level had dropped again, so I told my mom to immediately bring me to the emergency room. Result showed my potassium level was 1.9. I was again given a rapid potassium of 2 six cycles and an oral pill taken three times a day. This time my lab results were all normal so we can't determine yet what the primary cause is. As soon as my potassium level dropped, my BP rose to 170/100. I was instructed by my doctor to eat banana every day.

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Comment from: Bex1974, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I have been on chlorthalidone for over a year to help prevent my frequent kidney stones. This spring I caught pneumonia and was on a variety of medications including prednisone. I also had a rapid heartbeat which resulted in a variety of heart tests that turned up negative. A blood test turned up very low potassium levels, hypokalemia. I was told to eat more potassium. I loaded up on bananas and a variety of other foods. A week later, potassium was still low and I was advised to take a potassium supplement. A week later and that was not enough, I was put on a prescription potassium. Two weeks later my potassium was still low and I had to double my prescription. This weekend was the fourth of July and I was very active, more than usual. I started having finger paralysis, unable to move several fingers, several times a day. I also had tingling in my arms, legs, fingers, toes and lips, rapid heartbeat, whole body aches and absolute exhaustion. Seemed to wane a little when taking another potassium tablet. So weird that this has only happened after being on chlorthalidone for a year. I will be contacting the doctor tomorrow, I have to get off of this chlorthalidone!

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Comment from: Geoff, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 12

I have had lower back pain for the last 5 years. MRI showed pinched sciatic nerve. I have high blood pressure with hiatal hernia. Leg cramps at night with heart palpitations keep me awake. Finally a nutritionist said to try potassium gluconate 550 mg. Within a week I was sleeping better at night. My blood pressure has gone down and my leg cramps and back pain are better after three weeks of taking potassium.

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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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