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Author Topic: Significance of low potassium  (Read 12477 times)

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Offline Cliff

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Significance of low potassium
« on: July 06, 2006, 04:43:35 PM »
I went in for my 3-month labs on Friday.  Today a doctor, (not my doctor), left a message requesting that I come in for more tests.  I called back to find out why, (thinking the worst), only to find out my potassium levels were very low.  They checked my previous labs and the numbers were borderline low then. 

1.  This doesn't seem like a big deal to me, is it?
2.  Bananas are the only fruits I eat regularly (usually have 2-4 a week).  Is this not enough?
3.  Can HIV cause a drop in potassium?  My tcells have continued their decline, (600's from my last test in the US to low 300's on this test).  Could this explain the low levels of potassium?


Offline RapidRod

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Re: Significance of low potassium
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2006, 04:55:25 PM »
Hey Cliff,
Low potassium can cause heart problems if not corrected. It also can cause severe cramping in your leg muscles. I doubt that you can get enough potassium out of your Bananas to boost your potassium level, but they do help in maintaining your levels.  If it is that low, they will probably give you potassium horse capsules or put you on Slow-K. Don't be throwing your banana peels on the floor or you'll have other problems to deal with. ;)

Offline newt

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Re: Significance of low potassium
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2006, 07:37:25 PM »
Normal potassium level is 3.5-5.0 mEq/L (or mmol/l) . Low potassium is defined as a potassium level below 3.5. Below 2.5 = urgent attention (increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias).

Dehydration, some diuretics (this would include some blood pressure meds too), diarrhoea, vomiting, too much coffee are all causes.  Bananas, melons, orange juice, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, milk etc, turkey, beef are good sources of the K mineral.  Supplements an option.  Urgent cases = IV drip (gotta love those butterfly catheters).

More steak please.

- matt
"The object is to be a well patient, not a good patient"

Offline gerry

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Re: Significance of low potassium
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2006, 11:57:44 PM »
If the potassium level is "very low," then they need to find the reason for such, especially if you are not on medications that can cause it (e.g., diuretics) or if you have not had an acute condition that may cause it (e.g., diarrhea). Consuming diets rich in potassium may take care of mild reductions but would not be enough when it's very low.  The drop in CD4 count does not necessarily explain this and the cause may be entirely unrelated to HIV.  You might need to see an endocrinologist and nephrologist for this if it continues to be a problem.

Offline Cliff

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Re: Significance of low potassium
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2006, 05:15:13 AM »
Thanks for the responses.  I will go back for more testing next Friday.  Until then, I will get me some multivitamins and eat a banana a day.  Hopefully it was just a one-time deal...though I've also gotta find a way to stop my tcells from dropping.  Maybe the extra vitamins will help that too.

Offline Christine

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Re: Significance of low potassium
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2006, 10:26:57 AM »
Hi Cliff,
I experienced low potassium after having pretty bad vomitting and diarrhea for a few days. Low potassium can cause heart problems, so it does need to be addressed. I had become dehydrated from the stomach problems, so I was hospitalized for a few days- given fluids, and to get stomach issues under control. Ended up I had food poisoning.

There are big horse-pill size tablets, but I was given liquid potassium, which tastes like a nasty Tang. That did not work fast enough, so they had to do IV potassium. The drip was not diluted correctly, and it burned horribly. If you have to have the IV drip, make sure it is diluted properly, and the drip is slow, so it does not burn. Once it was diluted properly it hurt a little, but was tolerable.

My Mom has had low potassium also from being on a diuretic, and blood pressure meds. She controls it with eating potassium rich foods- bananas, oranges juice. Sometimes she will forget to eat correctly, and she can tell since she gets shakey, a little dizzy, and she will get cramps in her calves, usually during the night.

Poz since '93. Currently on Procrit, Azithromax, Pentamidine, Valcyte, Levothyroxine, Zoloft, Epzicom, Prezista, Viread, Norvir, and GS-9137 study drug. As needed: Trazodone, Atavan, Diflucan, Zofran, Hydrocodone, Octreotide

5/30/07 t-cells 9; vl 275,000

Offline RAB

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Re: Significance of low potassium
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2006, 06:55:25 PM »
My tcells have continued their decline, (600's from my last test in the US to low 300's on this test).

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