Normal potassium levels in the body help maintain the tissues, cells and organs and ensure that they function well. Potassium is a mineral needed by the body as it keeps the fluids and electrolytes in the body in a state of equilibrium. Potassium is also an electrolyte that conducts electricity to the muscles to keep them moving. If there are normal potassium levels, the muscles in the body will contract efficiently. In this regard, potassium also plays a vital role in making sure that the heart is operating healthily since the heart is also composed of smooth muscles. Normal potassium levels keep the body’s electrical activity at a normal pace.
What are the sources of potassium?
There are several kinds of foods that contain potassium. Taking in the right amount of foods rich in this mineral helps maintain the normal potassium levels in the body.
Fruits such as cantaloupe, raisins, oranges, watermelon, banana, and strawberry are good sources of potassium. Vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes and squash also supply the body with the right amount of potassium it needs. A person eating chicken, red meat and fish can likewise get potassium from these foods. Dairy products such as milk and yogurt give the body, not just protein and carbohydrates, but also potassium. Eating these foods should be in right moderation because too much or too little of potassium consumption can harm the body. For those patients with kidney failure or are undergoing dialysis, they should be careful with foods rich in potassium since these can aggravate their condition. If a person is restricted from potassium, the person should follow the prescribed dietary plan of the health care provider to avoid any problems.
How can we find out about normal potassium levels?
Since potassium is an essential element for the body, it is necessary for us to know the normal potassium levels. The normal potassium levels in the body range from 3 to 5.5 mEq per L.
There is a specific laboratory test for potassium that could determine whether a person has normal potassium levels or not. Potassium Test is the assessment done to find out the potassium content in the body. Through this test, it can be determined whether a person has abnormal potassium levels and whether he/she needs medical attention or not.
The Potassium Test can be a part of the routine examination when a patient is admitted to the hospital. It is also done to monitor the potassium levels in the body. Patients taking in medications that can affect the normal potassium levels are checked constantly for any increase or decrease in the potassium levels. Medications that could possibly affect the normal potassium levels in the body include diuretics. If a patient has a serious health condition such as kidney failure, it is necessary to monitor his or her potassium levels since any increase in potassium can create higher risks for kidney problem complications. Potassium test is also commonly ordered for patients with heart-related illnesses. It is important to maintain the normal potassium levels of a person with heart problems since potassium has a significant role in keeping the electrical activity of the heart at a normal pace. In addition, a patient with hypertension is also required to have the test to help the health care provider evaluate the patient’s high blood pressure.
What are the diseases associated with altered levels of potassium in the body?
When the normal potassium levels suddenly go up, the person may experience Hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia means high potassium levels in the blood or more than 5.5 mEq per L of potassium in the blood. The kidneys are the organs that would remove the excess potassium that the body no longer needs. But if there is too much potassium in the body, the kidneys will have a decreased ability to eliminate the mineral because of overwork. Diseases like acute and chronic kidney failure and glumerulonephritis are caused by hyperkalemia.
On the other hand, when the normal potassium levels suddenly go down, there would be hypokalemia or low potassium levels in the blood. If hypokalemia exists, the person may experience irregular heart rate, constipation, weakness of the muscles especially of the smooth muscles of the heart, bradycardia, and paralysis. The person should be aware of these symptoms especially if he or she experiences difficulty in breathing because there is a possibility that paralysis of the lungs has already occurred.
Having normal potassium levels in the body makes our body work normally. Any alteration in the normal potassium levels can also affect the body’s ability to operate well. Since potassium is a good electrolyte and a mineral needed by the body, then we should know where to get potassium. Too much or too little potassium intake can have undesirable effects in the body; therefore, keeping the normal potassium levels by proper monitoring and suitable diet should be done.