When to see a doctorBy Mayo Clinic staff
In most cases, low potassium is more commonly found by a blood test, before it gets so low that it causes symptoms.
Low potassium symptoms may include:
- Muscle cramps
Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are the most worrisome complication of very low potassium levels, particularly in patients with underlying heart disease.
Talk to your doctor about what your results mean. You may need to change a medication that's affecting your potassium level, or you may need to treat another medical condition that's causing your low potassium level. Treatment of low potassium is directed at the underlying cause and may include potassium supplements. Don't start taking potassium supplements without talking to your doctor first.
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- Rose BD. Diuretic-induced hypokalemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 24, 2011.
- Laboratory reference values. Potassium values. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. July 2011.
- Pulmonary function, arterial blood gases and electrolyte studies. In: Fischbach FT, et al. A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009: 944.