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

Sometimes the cause of low potassium is not clear. Your doctor may perform certain tests to rule out other conditions such as renal tubular acidosis, Cushing syndrome, and hypocalcemia.If an electrolyte imbalance is suspected, blood tests will be ordered check potassium levels, kidney function (BUN and creatinine), glucose, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous if an electrolyte imbalance is suspected.Because low potassium is known to affect heart rhythms (arrhythmias), a doctor may order a digoxin (Lanoxin) level if the patient is taking a digitalis preparation.ECG or a heart tracing is done to detect electrical changes in the heart and certain types of irregular heart rhythms that may be caused by low potassium.
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Avatar universal
My chiropractor gave me the V8 vegetable juice test.     For two months, I had all the symptoms of low/lack of potassium.  I was in the hospital for three days with palpitations, muscles spasms, weakness, etc.  The results of the EKGs, MRIs, CAT scans, and blood tests came back normal, so they sent me home diagnosed with a bad case of anxiety.      Two days later, the spasms got worse, and I couldn't walk or talk. Desperate, I went to see my chiropractor.  He gave me a can of V8 vegetable juice. Ten minutes later, I was feeling like new. He said that it was a lack of potassium. It took seven days to get rid of the symptoms, but now I feel much, much better. However, I have noticed that if I do a little bit too much, the twitching and the palpitations tend to come back, but they go away as soon as I drink a big glass of V8 and some raisins.    What concerns me the most is that my family doctor does not believe everything was caused by lack of potassium because, according to her, the blood tests show that everything was normal (3.6 mg of potassium). My theory is that 3.6 mg is low for me even though that amount is within the "normal" range for potassium.
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I had two TIAs (mini strokes) in the course of one month. Upon taking blood in the hospital they found low potassium levels. I started taking potassium pills in the hospital and followed up with my family doctor. It is still low but not as low as it was in the hospital. I couldn't understand why I was so tired and why my legs ached constantly and sometimes my left leg would just go numb and would have a tingling sensation in it. I now take blood tests once a month to monitor my potassium level. It is just as scary to have the low potassium levels as it was to have the two mini strokes. I am 58 years old, and I want to live a lot longer. I am adjusting to this new setback but also taking preventive measures to make sure that I am around to see my grandson graduate from college in about 10 years.
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For the past few months I have been suffering with edema of both feet and ankles.  I had seen a podiatrist, my primary care physician and went to an urgent care facility on two occasions.  My frustration level was sky high. Yesterday after I woke up I was having coffee with my wife and told her that I was going to the local emergency room because I was tired of being shuffled around from one doctor to another.  I was given a series of tests and was surprised that I had a very low potassium level.  The ER doctor was very thorough in his workup and put me on a potassium regimen and had me take 2 potassium tablets before I was discharged.  I am to take 2 tablets a day for the next 15 days along with a prescription diuretic to relieve the edema.  The edema has subsided somewhat but the potassium tablets seem to have reduced my chronic fatigue.  Finally I can see some progress being made.
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I've been having a lot of cramping, pain in my thighs, chest pain and trouble breathing and was told my potassium was 2.9. But not before they tried to say it was from my asthma.  I was given potassium pills until it went up, it went to 4.1.  Then a few weeks later the same thing happen the severe leg pain, nausea, trouble breathing, tired and weak. Again they say asthma. I had them do a potassium test and it was 3.0.  I am back on the pills again.  I don't take meds that would cause it to continue to go low, and the doctor doesn't seem too concerned. I am only 38 and was hospitalized 3 yrs ago for 1 week had severe chest pain, having difficulty breathing, loss of 52%oxygen from lungs and heart working overtime.  They gave me potassium through my IV from it being so low. I just wish they would try to figure out why this is happening or send me to someone who is willing to find out and help me.  I'm tired of my legs hurting because it is affecting everything I do. I want to see my two kids graduate from high school, and want to know why this continues to happen.
Avatar universal
I'm 38 years old and I have Crohn's disease. I went to the ER with severe stomach pain, chest pain, I'd been sick for several months not being able to keep food or liquids down. Severe cases of dehydration and a bad UTI. But the doctors didn't worry about my symptoms once they got my lab results in. My potassium levels were extremely low. So I had to get an IV for a lot of potassium. I couldn't go home from the hospital until the levels came up. I still don't any answers about why this happened.
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I was recently hospitalized for 3 days with paresthesia to my left side of my head and my left arm. it lasted six hours! They did every test and the only thing they found was low potassium. Since that time I realized that I had been having severe leg cramps and when they came back I am a nurse and put two and two together and started taking potassium in the form of foods. One day my legs hurt so badly, I found a drink that had 800 mg if potassium and after one hour of consumption my leg pain went away!!! All I know is it is not normal to have low potassium. Our bodies are well programmed to maintain levels of our electrolytes! I still don't know what is wrong with me - but I will blog later and let you know what I find out. By the way, I am  very healthy woman 42 yrs old, no medical problems. Thank you for reading. ljc
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I was just recently put on blood pressure meds, and it happens to be a diuretic.  At a follow up appointment I had mentioned that I felt really tired (even though I got a good night's sleep), heartburn worse than normal, odd taste in my mouth, and major craving for salt. With what I told him (an d things from past visits like joint pain) he decided to do a blood draw to see what my potassium level is. Funny thing is when I read up on the symptoms, I have almost all of them and have for a long time. I am new to this, just found out today, and put on a supplement and go back for it to be checked again in 2 wks.
Avatar universal
My husband and I were on our way to a meeting about 1 hour from our home, I was driving when  in a matter of minutes, I was having tingling, numbness, in both arms, hands, legs, feet and from my top lip up to the top of my head, then my hands went into severe muscle cramps, then my right arm was shaking violently. I got the car stopped, but could not move my hands to put the car in park or to even call 911, my husband had to put the car into park and unbuckle my seatbelt, he rushed me to a major hospital where blood work was taken. My potassium was 2.4, I was given 4 potassium pills and sent home, before reaching my home I had another attack same as the first and was rushed to the hospital near the small town that I live by. There I was put on a heart monitor, given an EKG, blood taken, and IV started and given liquid potassium all of this was done at a very small hospital. I am very dissatisfied with the major hospital that is known all over the world for being so unconcerned with my condition.
Avatar universal
I have been on asthma medicines all my life. I have breast cancer. Two surgeries 37 radiation treatments later my oncology doctor tells me my potassium level is low. I am taking medication for it, but I don't feel any better and I'm still weak and tired all day. I sleep 11 hours a day, I just can't get myself going. I turned 49 today.
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My daughter had a seizure five months ago and she was diagnosed with low potassium at the hospital and treated. She is bulimic and I am concerned that this could happen again.
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I went to the hospital for a simple procedure, and blood tests revealed that I had hypokalemia. I think the culprit was the medicine that I take for high blood pressure. I knew that I very tired and fatigued, but I chalked it up to the fibromyalgia that I have. Actually, I had all of the symptoms of hypokalemia but just didn't know what was going on. Now I have to take potassium meds three times a day, and they are the largest pills that I've ever seen in my life!
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I was at working, and after lunch started to feel lightheaded. Then I got a headache and I got really dizzy, and passed out. When I came to but I couldn't move, and I couldn't breathe! When the paramedics arrived, they gave me oxygen. It helped a bit. After about 30min at hospital, I starting vomiting again. I was still having trouble breathing. After 4 hours in hospital it was my potassium!  I have never heard of this. I have had a history of low blood ... but not recently. I did take depression meds at one time (Wellbutrin), but I've been off of them for about a year. I will be starting over-the-counter potassium pills and I will be eating more bananas and drinking plenty of orange juice!
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I have been having seizures for 5 years!  Every time that I am admitted to the hospital the doctor tells my mother that my potassium levels were very low.  However, the neurologist said there was no connection.  I have noticed that after ovulation, my potassium starts to drop frequently almost causing a seizure.  I came to these boards and found the comments about V8 and that has kept me out of the hospital!  However, I need to find the cause since it only happens during the couple of weeks PRIOR to menstruation!  It is my understanding that hyperthyroidism can cause this and my family has a history of this! Thanks for all of the comments!  Hopefully YOU ALL can find out the CAUSE!
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I had a blood test before my hernia operation.
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My 14 year old daughter has been suffering some dizzy spells and ended up passing out and falling down the stairs.  The hospital found low potassium levels and this explains the fainting.  Trying to find out how we can help modify her diet to ensure she manages this.  She has always suffered from cramps but is otherwise fit and healthy.
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First time I was diagnosed was 2 years ago when my doctor ran blood work and sent me straight to the hospital for dehydration and low potassium and sodium.  People around me had noticed I was slurring my words and not making sense but I didn't realize it and went to the doctor for vomiting. I was in the hospital for a week and they ran several tests, administered potassium through IV's and then pills but never really told me what caused it.  They did take me off my blood pressure medicine.  Then, because I have no insurance and could not afford to pay the bill for the doctor's from my regular doctor's office that came to the hospital they refused to see me and I went without medical services for two years.  This year I had to go to an emergency medical clinic and was again because of stomach pains and was sent to the hospital where I was diagnosed with diverticulitus (bacterial infection in the stomach) and while I was there they said I was dehydrated and had low potassium.  My count was under 2 at that time and they gave me 4 bags of potassium, fluids and 2 bags of antibiotics for the diverticulitus.  My doctor then changed my blood pressure medicine from Lisinoprol/Hydrochlorothazide to plain Lisinoprol.  Seems the Hydrocholothazide is known to take potassium out of your system.  Then a week later he started me on a potassium pill each day. For a long time I had been feeling as if my mind just wasn't right but since I've started on the pills I've felt more clear headed and that's a great feeling.  Still would like to understand why I'm losing the potassium, even after he took me off blood pressure medications it wasn't right.  I also have a problem with low sodium.  I'm a "saltaholic" so I really don't understand that.  Didn't realize until now that when your potassium gets low your heart could stop!
Avatar universal
I have hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, and low potassium.  I have been hospitalized on many occasions for passing out or partial paralysis only to be sent home with the same MRI, CAT scan, etc tests being normal just like some of you. It is unsettling to have a doctor tell you you're fine or maybe just having a little "anxiety attack" when you know something is wrong with you. I take potassium pills every day, but sometimes it doesn't help. I will now do the V8 juice daily thanks to the caring individual who shared that info here! Each person has different levels that are "normal." I am grateful to this website because when my doctor couldn't help, you all did. Thank you!
Avatar universal
I went to my doctor for an annual physical because I was past due and was feeling really blah.  I had no energy and I was tired all the time along with being shaky, dizzy, nauseous and bloated.  At times I began to have periods where my legs felt incredibly heavy and it was an effort to move and I was also having periods of intense sweating and heaving urination. An ordinary physical exam said I looked okay, and we did all the standard blood work for a 43-year-old female with other tests to measure health risks. My potassium came back low. I actually just got the results yesterday and have a prescription to fill and am hoping that I will feel more like myself soon.
Avatar universal
I have been suffering with heart palpitations for 7 months now, my family doctor insiss it is anxiety and was placed on a blood pressure pill to help the palpitations, it did not help.  They actually got worse, so I quit taking them, per my doctor. I then was referred to a cardiologist where a echocardiogram showed my heart looked good. I also wore a holter monitor for 24 hours and this showed a lot of irregular heart beats..duh after this I went to the ER one evening due to having nausea, numbness in my neck and middle back with a little confusion. The ER Doc said I was low of potassium and were given 40 mg of potassium, within minutes my palpitations went away but for only 10-12 hours.
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My father was diagnosed with low potassium levels after having blood work done before an operation for cancer. He was told that they would not operate if his level didn't come up in time.
Avatar universal
I consistently have low potassium.  I've had two bowel resections due to Crohn's Disease and have since suffered continuously with low potassium. I've never heard of drinking V8 but will surely give it a shot.  I have been hospitalized every 3 weeks for the past 4 years with levels going as low as 1.6.  I take 120 mg of potassium daily. Because of the constant diarrhea I don't know how much I actually retain, and my veins are now collapsing due to the constant IV's.
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Routine bloodwork showed my potassium to be 3.0 a couple days ago. As a result, I started taking 20meq of K-Dur. I've been taking HCTZ for high blood pressure, so my first guess was the low K is from that - however, looking at my previous labs it's always run a bit low. After reading several abstracts linking low K levels to hypertension, I'm hoping that maybe there's a link and that the K-Dur will cancel out the need for the HCTZ. I've also had unexplained palpitations and moments of feeling like I was about to black out recently - I suppose the low potassium is responsible.
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I went to the doctor for severe tiredness, no energy, etc.  The doctor told me everything looked fine and that I must just be depressed. He had me on an antidepressant, which I didn't take.  His office called two days later and said that my potassium was at stroke level and immediately put me on a potassium supplement.  I took it for thirty days and level is now within normal range, but I have to go back in three months to have it checked again.
Avatar universal
ER Dr. found the deficiency.
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