How are the causes of hypokalemia (low potassium level) managed to prevent the loss of potassium?

Updated: Dec 06, 2018
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

Measures to identify and stop ongoing losses of potassium include the following:

  • Discontinue diuretics/laxatives

  • Use potassium-sparing diuretics if diuretic therapy is required (eg, severe heart failure)

  • Treat diarrhea or vomiting

  • Administer H2 blockers to patients receiving nasogastric suction

  • Control hyperglycemia if glycosuria is present

Because of the risk associated with potassium replacement, alleviation of the cause of hypokalemia may be preferable to treatment, especially if hypokalemia is mild, asymptomatic, or transient and is likely to resolve without treatment. For example, patients with vomiting who are successfully treated with antiemetics may not require potassium replacement.


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