Potassium is a fundamental mineral and electrolyte in the body’s cells, organs, and tissues. You can discover potassium in food, for example, nuts, bananas, fish, etc. Older people need a specific degree of potassium in their eating regimen to stay healthy. Nonetheless, an extreme or excessively little in your eating routine could be harming. Understanding the causes, side effects, and the board of high and low potassium is pivotal to your well-being.

Potassium is one of the minerals in your blood that conveys an electrical charge. These minerals are called electrolytes. Potassium cooperates with different electrolytes to push your body to:

  • 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
  • Receive and send messages from your brain that make your muscles contract when it’s time to use them.
  • Potassium even helps to regulate your heartbeat.

Your kidneys control the measure of potassium in your body by excreting excess potassium through your pee. Your kidneys keep up the sound harmony among potassium and different electrolytes your body needs to work appropriately.

Read on to gather symptoms of low potassium in the elderly.

How to increase potassium?

An overabundance of potassium in your eating regimen. High-potassium nourishments, for example, tomatoes, bananas, yogurt, citrus, meats, and others can make an excess of potassium enter your bloodstream. Salt substitutes are high in potassium and can cause issues for people who can’t sufficiently discharge potassium.

Certain drugs. Meds, for example, diuretics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and others meddle with your capacity to discharge excess potassium. Reduced kidney function can additionally exacerbate these results.

Diminished blood flow to the kidneys. As you age, your kidneys may lose the capacity to channel the blood and cause issues with discharging potassium. Elevated levels of potassium may collect in the circulatory system accordingly.

Symptoms of high potassium in the elderly

High-potassium intake via foods high in potassium usually brings about mellow and vague indications or symptoms, for example, muscle shivering, weakness, and numbness. These side effects grow gradually over a few weeks or months. The greatest risks of high potassium happen when it happens out of nowhere. Call 911 or head to the emergency center if you experience chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea, or vomiting.

How to deal with high potassium?

Eat a low-potassium diet, which incorporates foods, for example, apples, berries, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chocolate, eggplant, kale, lettuce, noodles, onions, pasta, peppers, rice, and watermelon.

Stay away from certain salt substitutes, home based cures, and enhancements.

Get some information about water pills or potassium binders from your doctor.

What is low potassium (hypokalemia)?

3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) is the sound scope of potassium levels in your blood. On the off chance that your levels fall beneath 3.6 mmol/L, you have a potassium inadequacy. Potassium levels beneath 2.5 mmol/L are perilous and require quick medical consideration.

In the older, diminished body function, loss of appetite, certain illnesses, and a few meds increment their danger of hypokalemia.

What causes low potassium in the elderly?

Malnutrition and dehydration. Having undesirable nourishments, or not eating for long stretches of time, can drain your assortment of nutrients and minerals. Dehydrations can likewise prompt loss of potassium in cells.

Diuretics. Diuretics are prescriptions that increase the discharge of salt and water content in your pee. A few diuretics can cause low potassium levels in the elderly because of the discharge of an excess of potassium.

Diarrhea and excess vomiting can prompt dehydration, low sodium levels, and hypokalemia, which is a state of low potassium levels. Vomiting can likewise trigger potassium loss from pee, which makes prolonged heaving bring about low potassium levels.

Your body doesn’t make its potassium, so it must assimilate all it requires from the food you eat. Despite this reality, the underlying driver of most potassium insufficiencies isn’t ailing health. By far most of the insufficiencies result from the body disposing off a lot of potassium. On the off chance that you create hypokalemia, your PCP will attempt to discover the explanation that your body is wiping out more potassium than it should.

Potential reasons for low potassium include:

Unnecessary urine

Urine is the most widely recognized way that your body kills abundant potassium. Your kidneys control this cycle. Certain kidney issues and ailments bring about the loss of an excess of potassium through pee, and in the loss of the kidneys’ capacity to manage potassium levels. In any case, kidneys in the old people will normally diminish in work as a feature of the aging cycle. The diminished capacity of the kidneys of elderly regularly prompts increased pee and potassium inadequacy.


Diuretics or water pills are meds regularly recommended to old people for (hypertension) and coronary disease. Diuretics cause increased pee that prompts loss of potassium. The utilization of diuretics is the most basic reason for hypokalemia.

Loose bowels

Persevering looseness of the bowels causes potassium to be flushed out of the system before it’s stored into the body through the digestive tracts. The unnecessary utilization of intestinal medicines or purifications prompts chronic diarrhea and low potassium levels. Now and again, certain infections that cause constant loose bowels are the main drivers of low potassium levels. These infections incorporate Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.


Constant vomiting prompts hunger and diminished potassium consumption. Dietary problems like bulimia and anorexia likewise reduce the measure of potassium that the body is retaining and lead to hypokalemia.

Excessive perspiring

Perspiring is another way the body flushes out potassium. Extreme perspiring in a sweltering climate or during physical activity brings down the body’s potassium levels.

Vitamin and mineral imbalance

An excess of sodium, low magnesium levels, and folate insufficiency are connected to low potassium levels.


Notwithstanding diuretics and purgatives, different prescriptions adversely influence the body’s capacity to retain and utilize potassium. Insulin, certain steroids, and a few antimicrobials are connected to hypokalemia. A few prescriptions are ordinarily taken by people with asthma or emphysema likewise add to potassium deficiency.

Alcohol abuse

Excessive alcohol use fundamentally builds your risk of low potassium levels. Since alcohol enters your circulatory system, it is conveyed to each organ in your body. Alcohol impedes your organs’ capacities to direct the equalization of water and electrolytes your body needs to work appropriately.

A few medical procedures

A few medical procedures like surgeries decline the retention of potassium in your body. Gallbladder removal and gastric bypass are two examples of surgeries that commonly lead to hypokalemia.

What are the symptoms of low potassium in the elderly?

Potassium deficiency grows gradually in the older through side effects, for example, weariness, muscle weakness, cramps, bone delicacy, sickness, heaving, and higher glucose. Low potassium can likewise cause a few mind-set changes in older people, including disarray, misery, anxious problems, and sporadic conduct.

The manifestations of low potassium are not in every case promptly obvious. In old people, particularly, hypokalemia symptoms frequently go unnoticed or disregarded. The symptoms to look for include:

Muscle weakness

Your muscles work and contract when they get messages from your cerebrum to do as such. Potassium enables your muscles to get those messages. Decreased degrees of potassium disturb the correspondence between your mind and muscles. Accordingly, a potassium insufficiency regularly delivers feeble withdrawals. At the point when potassium levels are incredibly low, a portion of your muscles fail to work at all.

Muscle cramps, aches, and stiffness

The interruption of messages between your cerebrum and muscles will some of the time cause a stiff muscle or a group of muscles to contract emphatically and not release. This long, uncontrolled compression is known as a spasm. If your potassium levels drop excessively low, you may see an expansion of agonizing muscle cramps. Potassium additionally helps control the supply of blood to your muscles. At the point when the progression of blood diminishes, your muscles begin to break down. Aches and stiffness in your muscles may demonstrate a potassium deficiency.

Weariness and mood changes

Potassium influences how your body utilizes different supplements. At the point when your body can’t appropriately retain and get the maximum benefit of the supplements you eat, you can encounter general exhaustion, mood swings, or a sense of “feeling off.”

Constipation and feeling bloated

Digestion necessitates that the muscles in your throat, stomach, and digestive tracts are working appropriately. As the food is pushed through your digestive system, potassium is transferring messages from your cerebrum to those muscles. When there isn’t sufficient potassium in your body, the muscles don’t work adequately, cramping happens in your abdomen and the processing of food slows down.

Heart palpitations

Your heart is a muscle, and like different muscles, it relies upon potassium to contract and relax typically. When there is an absence of potassium, you may see heart palpitations. This vibe like your heart abruptly begins thumping more energetically, beating very rapidly, vacillating, or skipping thumps. You may see heart palpitations in your chest, throat, or neck.

Tingling or numbness

The capacity of potassium to lead electrical impulses is basic to healthy nerve function. Without enough potassium in your body, your nerve signals debilitate and can cause tingling or numbness in your arms, hands, legs, or feet.

Breathing difficulties

The connection between potassium and sound muscle work assumes a significant part in your capacity to inhale or breath properly. Your stomach is a muscle that makes your lungs inflate and deflate. Low potassium can debilitate your diaphragm and make breathing troublesome. Shortness of breath is additionally a manifestation of diminished heart work that can result from low potassium.

If left untreated, hypokalemia is dangerous. Incredibly low potassium can cause a cardiovascular breakdown or stop your breathing. On the off chance that you have tenacious side effects as depicted above, see your PCP. With a basic blood test, your primary care physician can decide if your potassium levels are low. On the off chance that you have low potassium, your primary care physician may arrange different tests to decide the reason for the insufficiency or to decide if the deficiency affected your heart.

How to deal with low potassium?

Eat a high-potassium diet or foods high in potassium, which incorporates foods, for example, avocados, bananas, broccoli, spinach, granola, kidney beans, milk, nuts, oranges, nutty spread, potatoes, pumpkin, raisins, tomatoes, and fish.

Gather information about potassium supplements. These contain potassium chloride and potassium bicarbonate.

Once diagnosed, hypokalemia is treatable. Nonetheless, just expanding your potassium intake is typically insufficient. To treat an inadequacy, the main driver of your low potassium levels must be found and addressed. Treating the hidden maladies or conditions, altering practices, and changing prescriptions would all be essential for your treatment plan. Simply after the reason is wiped out would you be able to keep low potassium from reoccurring.

On the off chance that your potassium levels are hazardously low, you will likely need to go to the emergency clinic to get electrolytes through intravenous treatment, otherwise called an IV. In the medical clinic, medical services experts will look for indications of serious unexpected issues until your potassium levels come back to an ordinary level.

If your insufficiency is moderate, your PCP may endorse potassium supplements as pills or fluid. In some cases, potassium enhancements can disturb your stomach and cause vomiting. If that occurs, contact your primary care physician right away. Regurgitating can cause your potassium levels to fall even lower. You ought to never begin taking potassium supplements without first conversing with your primary care physician. Taking an excessive amount of can bring about high potassium levels which can likewise have serious health outcomes. While you are taking any potassium supplements, your primary care physician will test your blood levels frequently.

Foods high in potassium

The most secure and simplest approach to build the measure of your potassium intake is through the foods you eat. Specialists suggest that adults, including the elderly, ought to get 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day through their eating routine. Tragically, an investigation directed from 2003 to 2008 demonstrated that 98% of grown-ups in America are not meeting the basic requirement for potassium in their eating regimen. As the number of processed foods devoured, a large portion of us in this nation are getting too little potassium and an excess of sodium in the food sources we eat. High sodium levels cause your body to lose more potassium, neutralizing any push to build your potassium intake.

However, restricting sodium in your eating regimen, there are a lot of tasty foods you can eat to help increase your potassium consumption. At the point when the expression “foods high in potassium” is referenced, numerous individuals quickly consider bananas. Maybe shockingly, even though bananas contain some potassium, numerous foods contain a lot of higher sums. The best sources of potassium include:

  • Green vegetables (especially beet greens, cabbage, collard greens, and spinach)
  • Mushrooms
  • Summer squash (especially zucchini)
  • Winter squash
  • Lentils
  • Beans (especially white beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans)
  • Potatoes (including sweet potatoes and yams)
  • Tomatoes (and low-sodium tomato juice)
  • Avocados
  • Apricots (1/2 cup of dried apricots provide 1/3 of the potassium needed each day)
  • Raisins
  • Prunes
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Soy products (like tofu)
  • Animal products (like beef, pork, poultry, clams, fish and dairy products)

Sports drinks are regularly advertised as being acceptable electrolyte substitutions. Be that as it may, they can contain high measures of sugar and sodium. To build potassium, orange juice is a better option than a sports drink.

Low potassium treatment in hospital

In an emergency situation, screen your pulse.

As you age, you are bound to encounter a potassium insufficiency, otherwise called hypokalemia. Studies show that women more than 65 years old are particularly helpless against low potassium. Let’s have a look at how  it’s treated in hospitals.

Medicine Therapy Management

At the point when old people are taking a few endorsed meds and enhancements, it can get confounding and overpowering. Hospitals offer Medication Therapy Management (MTM) services that are facilitated with your pharmacist to help enhance the remedial result of every medicine endorsed to you. MTM services help you or your guardian to keep a check on every drug you are taking, to know how and when to take your prescription appropriately and how to recognize conceivable results of the medicine (like low potassium.)

Senior Home Care Services

Hospitals offer a wide scope of specialized short term and long term services developed to meet the novel consideration needs of the elderly while ensuring their nobility. They work with you to make a tweaked care plan for you or your cherished ones. The healthcare plan can be intended to address sustenance, ongoing ailments, medicine organization, and side effects that are connected to low potassium. Their senior home care services may likewise have the option to help recognize manifestations that old people may overlook. These services are given in the privacy of your home via mindful, experienced experts.

Clinical Nutrition Therapy

A solid eating routine is a significant part of treating and forestalling low potassium. Hospitals often offer Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) services that can help. A registered dietician can assist you with planning a customised nutrition plan that is customized for you. When helping you make a plan, they will consider factors, for example, your medical history, your present healthcare needs, your dietary limitations, etc. Through the MNT services offered by hospitals, you can make better food choices, eat healthier portions and learn delicious ways to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.


Nabeel Ahmad is the founder and editor-in-chief of Lone Mind. Apart from Lone Mind, he is a serial entrepreneur, and has founded multiple successful companies in different industries.

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