How should potassium be replenished in the treatment of hypokalemia (low potassium level)?

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

Replenishment of potassium is the second treatment step. For every 1 mEq/L decrease in serum potassium, the potassium deficit is approximately 200-400 mEq.

Bear in mind, however, that many factors in addition to the total body potassium stores contribute to the serum potassium concentration. Therefore, this calculation could either overestimate or underestimate the true potassium deficit. For example, do not overcorrect potassium in patients with periodic hypokalemic paralysis. This condition is caused by transcellular maldistribution, not by a true deficit.


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