Potassium is one of the essential minerals in the human body and most living cells. Along with sodium, it makes up the balance between the intracellular and extracellular space. While there is a concentration of sodium outside of the cell, potassium is more concentrated on the inside. This creates a gradient potential our cells use to move around substances and activate metabolic processes.
That makes potassium an essential micronutrient for almost everything in the organism. However, as you will see in this article, low potassium symptoms are usually related to the musculoskeletal system and the heart. These are the most commonly affected organs, but you can also have consequences on the brain and other body systems.
Low potassium is known as hypokalemia, and it is defined as a level of serum potassium lower than 3.5 mEq/L. This electrolyte imbalance is potentially life-threatening, but some patients do not display any symptoms. Thus, asymptomatic hypokalemia is a possibility. You can have low potassium levels and display no signs at all. It depends on your organism and how low your potassium levels are.
Symptomatic patients typically display the following signs and symptoms:
It is perhaps one of the most common manifestations of a low potassium level. There are multiple reasons and causes of fatigue. First off, it is secondary to changes in the musculoskeletal system, as we will review further. Secondly, low potassium levels compromise the uptake and metabolism of other nutrients.
As mentioned above, potassium balance is required for multiple chemical processes. It helps cells move around substances inside and out. When nutrients are not processed as they should, our energy levels start to drop, and fatigue ensues.