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Parents want the best for their children and that includes good health and the ability to play and grow without interruption. When there is an imbalance in the body’s chemicals or minerals, normal childhood activities can be disrupted. Low potassium in children is one such imbalance that can lead to larger problems 1.
Potassium is a mineral that is needed to help cells, nerves and muscles work properly, according to the Merck Manuals. It is found in foods and drinks and lost through urine. Low potassium is also called hypokalemia and occurs when the level of potassium in the blood is lower than normal 1. A normal potassium level is 3.6 to 4.8 milliequivalents per liter, so a low level is less than 3.6 1.
Hand Tremors & Potassium
Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine says that the body normally does a good job of matching the amount of potassium excreted from the system with the amount taken in through food and drinks 2. When the body releases too much potassium, there is a problem. In children, excessive sweating, vomiting or diarrhea are the main causes of low potassium 1. Chronic kidney failure, which is rare in children, can also cause low potassium 1.
Small dips in potassium levels often do not show any symptoms. When there is a larger dip, symptoms including muscle cramping and weakness, twitches and paralysis may occur. Overall fatigue and an abnormal heartbeat are also symptoms of low potassium levels in children, according to the Mayo Clinic 1. Children with low potassium levels may experience extreme thirst, frequent urination and confusion 1.
- Small dips in potassium levels often do not show any symptoms.
- When there is a larger dip, symptoms including muscle cramping and weakness, twitches and paralysis may occur.
Hormonal Imbalance in Children
There are multiple treatment options, depending on the severity of the problem. Eating a high-potassium food, such as bananas or green, leafy vegetables, or taking an oral supplement are often effective treatments for children. An electrolyte drink may also be prescribed if severe vomiting or diarrhea is the cause. It is often recommended for children. In severe cases or if oral supplements are not working, potassium can be given through an IV.
- There are multiple treatment options, depending on the severity of the problem.
- In severe cases or if oral supplements are not working, potassium can be given through an IV.
Children with gastrointestinal issues that cause extended periods of vomiting or diarrhea should be monitored carefully, as cardiac arrest can occur when potassium levels are too low 1. Call your pediatrician if your child is showing any significant signs of potassium loss.
Hand Tremors & Potassium
Hormonal Imbalance in Children
Exercises to Improve Muscle Tone
Strong Urine in Children
Lightheaded Feeling From Low Potassium
My Son Does Not Gain Weight
High Fever Lasting More Than Five Days in Children
Leukocytes in Urine in Children
Low Potassium and Magnesium Levels
Signs & Symptoms of Low Potassium in Women
- Mayoclinic.com: Low Potassium
- Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine: Hypokalemia
- Potassium. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health
- Lambert H, Frassetto L, Moore JB, et al. The effect of supplementation with alkaline potassium salts on bone metabolism: a meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int. 2015;26(4):1311-8. doi:+10.1007/s00198-014-3006-9
- Chatterjee R, Slentz C, Davenport CA, et al. Effects of potassium supplements on glucose metabolism in African Americans with prediabetes: a pilot trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106(6):1431-1438. doi:10.3945/ajcn.117.161570
- Potassium. Fact Sheet for Consumers. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health
- Health Claim Notification for Potassium Containing Foods. US Food and Drug Administration
- Aburto NJ, Hanson S, Gutierrez H, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ 2013;346:f1378.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What Is Potassium?
- ConsumerLab.com. Potassium Supplements Review.
- Curhan GC, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ. A prospective study of dietary calcium and other nutrients and the risk of symptomatic kidney stones. N Engl J Med 1993;328:833-8.
- Curhan GC, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Spiegelman D, Stampfer MJ. Comparison of dietary calcium with supplemental calcium and other nutrients as factors affecting the risk for kidney stones in women. Ann Intern Med 1997;126:497-504.
- D’Elia L, Barba G, Cappuccio FP, Strazzullo P. Potassium intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease a meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Coll Cardiol 2011;57:1210-9.
- O’Neil C, Keast D, Fulgoni V, and Nicklas T. Food sources of energy and nutrients among adults in the US: NHANES 2003-2006. Nutrients. 2012;4:2097-120. DOI: 10.3390/nu4122097.
- Stone M, Martyn L, and Weaver C. Potassium intake, bioavailability, hypertension, and glucose control. Nutrients. 2016;8: E444. DOI: 10.3390/nu8070444.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Health Claim Notification for Potassium Containing Foods.
- Weaver CM. Potassium and health. Adv Nutr 2013;4:368S-77S.
- Yong Sun, et al. Dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness. JCI Insight. 2017;2(19):e94920.
Karen Cashin began writing and working in public relations in 1999. Her work has appeared in the "hapwise" newsletter and on after5detroit.com. Cashin has experience in the health care, consumer and automotive fields, and holds a Health Insurance Associate designation from America’s Health Insurance Plans, along with her Master of Arts in public relations and organizational communication from Wayne State University.