You likely know that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to numerous health issues, including liver disease, stroke, heart disease, and cancer. However, you might not realize that it can also impact potassium levels in your body.
First, learn more about what potassium is and why you need it to function. Then, find out how excessive alcohol consumption and other conditions can cause low potassium levels. Finally, discover how you can rebalance your potassium levels and other vitamins and nutrients.
Potassium is a mineral and type of electrolyte that helps your body work properly. With it, your muscles can contract, and your nerves can function. Also, the potassium in your body regulates your heartbeat and transports nutrients into cells while removing waste.
You can find potassium in numerous foods and beverages, including:
- Oranges and orange juice
Drinking alcohol can disrupt the system by depleting potassium. Let’s take a closer look at how alcohol affects potassium levels.
How Does Alcohol Affect Potassium Levels?
Excessive drinking can cause your body to break down muscle fibers. When that happens, the muscles release potassium. This drastically reduces the amount of potassium in your body and can cause a condition called hypokalemia.
What Is Hypokalemia?
Hypokalemia is defined as having low potassium levels in your blood. You should have 3.6-5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). If it’s lower than that, you have hypokalemia.
Because your body needs potassium to work normally, this is a serious condition. Thus, it’s important to know the symptoms of hypokalemia.
You can develop a number of symptoms if you have hypokalemia. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Paralysis in some muscles
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Kidney problems
If left untreated, hypokalemia can lead to a heart attack and death. That’s why it’s important to go to the doctor immediately if you have any symptoms.
Now, let’s explore the groups that are most at risk for developing hypokalemia.
Who Is at Risk for Hypokalemia?
Certain factors increase your risk of experiencing low potassium levels. If you are in a high-risk group for hypokalemia, you need to make sure that you regulate your potassium levels.
Researchers have found a link between hypokalemia and diabetes, both as the disease’s cause and as a response to treatment. First, let’s look at how hypokalemia can cause diabetes.
Your body makes the hormone insulin. Its main responsibility is moving glucose from the blood to your cells. Then, the cells use glucose for energy.
In most instances, the body regulates insulin and blood sugar levels. However, when it can’t, you can develop type 2 diabetes.
Sometimes, the body can’t regulate these levels due to hypokalemia. If you have low potassium levels, your body will have a much harder time controlling your blood sugar. Then, you could end up with type 2 diabetes.
While additional research is still needed, many in the medical community believe that taking potassium supplements can prevent the high-risk group from developing type 2 diabetes.
While not as common, diabetes treatment can also lead to hypokalemia. This typically only occurs when treating severe hyperglycemia in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis. Thus, keeping your diabetes under control will reduce your risk for hypokalemia.
Those with Congestive Heart Failure
Unfortunately, treatment for congestive heart failure can cause hypokalemia. Digoxin and loop diuretics are often used to treat the condition, which can drastically reduce potassium levels in the bloodstream.
Thus, people with congestive heart failure must get their Serum K levels checked regularly. If you have mild hypokalemia and heart failure, your doctor might prescribe an aldosterone receptor antagonist, such as:
However, you’ll likely need to take a K+ supplement if you have severe hypokalemia.
A hypokalemia diagnosis could also limit your treatment options. For instance, your doctor might choose to prescribe a lower-than-normal dose of a diuretic to prevent your condition from worsening. With so many considerations, managing congestive heart failure and hypokalemia is challenging.
People with Chronic Kidney Disease
Most often, chronic kidney disease causes hyperkalemia, which means there’s too much potassium in the blood. While not as common, hypokalemia is also possible. Chronic kidney disease can cause fluid and electrolyte loss through:
In some cases, this can cause hypokalemia. If you develop hypokalemia and kidney disease, your doctor will need to address both conditions.
Alcoholics and Heavy Drug Users
Both excessive alcohol and drug use can cause electrolyte disturbances that can lead to hypokalemia. These disturbances can be especially dangerous and cause additional significant health conditions.
For example, researchers evaluated the case of a 51-year-old woman who went to the emergency room due to symptoms that included:
- Body aches
- Leg weakness
She admitted to consuming excessive amounts of alcohol for two decades, with her last alcoholic drink two days before going to the emergency room. Her potassium level was only 2.3 mmol/L. That’s far from the normal range of 3.6-5.2 mmol/L.
Her physician ordered an echocardiogram, and she didn’t have a heart arrhythmia. However, doctors were concerned to see that her corrected QT interval was 551ms. Anything over 470ms for women is considered prolonged.
The medical team quickly took action, providing her with electrolytes to rebalance her potassium levels. Unfortunately, it was too late, and she went into cardiac arrest.
Fortunately, she recovered and was able to go home with instructions not to consume alcohol again. Her case is one of many that illustrate the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
Abusing illicit drugs can also lead to hypokalemia. In another case, researchers evaluated a 33-year-old female patient. She visited the doctor after experiencing painful weakness in both arms and legs for five days. The weakness began in both of her legs and then traveled to the arms as well.
Upon testing, the physician discovered that she suffered from severe hypokalemia. In addition, she tested positive for:
Both heroin and cocaine are associated with hypokalemia. According to researchers, healthy adults can develop hypokalemia when they take these drugs. The risk increases with higher doses, but no dose is safe. You never know how your body will react to illicit drugs, so your potassium levels could drop with moderate or even light use.
While both of these cases involve women, men are at risk as well. If you abuse drugs or alcohol, your system might become depleted of potassium. Consider getting help so that you can avoid hypokalemia and other health conditions.
People with Chronic Gastrointestinal Problems
Chronic gastrointestinal problems can lead to electrolyte loss, including potassium. You are at a higher risk of losing significant potassium loss if you suffer from chronic:
This is often due to an underlying medical condition. Visit your doctor if you experience vomiting and diarrhea regularly. Once you respond to treatment, you’ll reduce your risk of hypokalemia.
People with Eating Disorders
While researchers are still investigating the link between hypokalemia and eating disorders, many agree that these disorders increase the risk of potassium loss. This is especially true when the person loses weight through:
- Excessive vomiting
- Laxative abuse
Undergoing treatment for the eating disorder can help you rebalance your system. After successful treatment, you won’t have to worry about losing excess potassium due to vomiting or laxative abuse.
If you are at high risk for hypokalemia, you’re likely pretty worried. Fortunately, you can use IV therapy to promote general wellness. Along with working with your physician, this can help you keep your electrolytes balanced.
How Can Reset IV’s Products Help with General Wellness?
Reset IV has products you can use to balance your electrolytes and improve your overall wellness. The products include vitamins and nutrients, such as:
You can also get a banana bag IV if you need potassium and other electrolytes. Then, you can replenish what you’ve lost to avoid dangerous complications from hypokalemia.
When you use these products, a nurse will infuse vitamins and minerals directly into your bloodstream. The therapy can:
- Make skin healthier
- Improve and support your immune system
- Help you rehydrate
- Increase your energy
- Help you manage chronic diseases
The process is surprisingly simple. First, you’ll choose one of the wellness packages. There are five package options, so select from:
You can also select a product from one of the company’s other categories, such as the:
- Feeling Sick Packages
- Athletic Package
After choosing a package, one of Reset IV’s nurse practitioners or physicians will go over your medical history and review your package choice to make sure it’s a good fit.
Then, a nurse will visit you at home to administer the IV. You should start to notice a difference immediately.
Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of Hypokalemia
Hypokalemia can be fatal if left untreated. Thus, if you notice any symptoms, talk to your physician. You can also use Reset IV’s products to balance your electrolytes and improve your overall wellness. Since these products infuse vitamins and nutrients directly into your bloodstream, you can feel better quickly.