Low potassium (hypokalemia) has many causes. The most common cause of low potassium is excessive potassium loss in urine or from the digestive tract. Only rarely is low potassium due to not getting enough potassium in your diet.
The most common cause of excessive potassium loss is the use of prescription diuretics — water or fluid pills. Causes of potassium loss leading to low potassium include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive use of laxatives
- Prescription diuretic (water or fluid pills) use
- Primary aldosteronism
Aug. 17, 2011
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Rose BD. Causes of hypokalemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 24, 2011.
- Mount DB. Clinical manifestations and treatment of hypokalemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 25, 2011.
- Rose BD. Diuretic-induced hypokalemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 24, 2011.
- Laboratory reference values. Potassium values. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. July 2011.
- Pulmonary function, arterial blood gases and electrolyte studies. In: Fischbach FT, et al. A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009: 944.