Low Potassium (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Low Potassium Medical Treatment
Potassium replacement therapy will be directed by the type and severity of the patient's symptoms. Treatment begins after lab tests confirm the diagnosis.
People suspected of having severely low potassium need to be placed on a cardiac monitor and have an IV started.
Usually, those with mild or moderately low potassium levels (2.5-3.5 mEq/L), who have no symptoms, or who have only minor complaints only need to be treated with potassium given in pill or liquid form. This is preferred because it is easy to administer, safe, inexpensive, and readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Some preparations, or too high of a dose, may irritate the stomach and cause vomiting.
If cardiac arrhythmias or significant symptoms are present or if the potassium level is less than 2.5 mEq/L, IV potassium should be given. In this situation, admission or observation in the emergency department is indicated. Replacing potassium takes several hours as it must be administered very slowly intravenously to avoid serious heart problems.
For those with severely low potassium and symptoms, both IV potassium and oral medication are necessary.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2014
Must Read Articles Related to Low Potassium
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Low Potassium (Hypokalemia):
Low Potassium - Symptoms
What were the symptoms of your low potassium (hypokalemia)?
Low Potassium (Hypokalemia) - Diagnosis
How was the diagnosis of your low potassium (hypokalemia) established?
Low Potassium (Hypokalemia) - Causes
What was the cause of your low potassium?
Nutrition and Healthy Eating Resources
- Symptoms of a Severe Allergic Reaction
- Can Baby Catch Eczema?
- How to Get Beautiful, Dandruff-Free Hair