Important Things to Know About Potassium - Diabetes Health Page

Important Things to Know About Potassium

By Gabriela | Diabetes

Does Potassium Has a Role in Diabetes Development

The body alters the food we consume and actually converts it into glucose, i.e., sugar. What the body does is that it uses sugar for energy. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas.

The body uses this hormone in order to help move sugar into the cells in our body. In case we have diabetes, the body won’t be able to use or make insulin efficiently.

Although we cannot prevent type 1 diabetes, we can reduce the risk of type 2 – which tends to occur in people older than 35 years old.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte which helps maintain bodily fluids at a proper and suitable level. In case our bodily fluids are in check, our body can keep our brain functioning, contract our muscles and ensure that our heart is beating correctly.

The Function of Potassium in the Body

The job of potassium is to help the muscles contract, help the nerve conduct and regulate our heartbeat. Also, it works to keep a suitable fluid balance between our body fluids and our cells.

The body is actually a fine-tuned machine that as long is functioning properly, and it’s healthy, things will work correctly. Meaning that as long as the kidneys work correctly, they will regulate the amount of potassium that our body needs.

But, those with diabetes and kidney disease need to be careful of their intake of potassium, since the levels might get too high and their kidneys won’t be able to work properly.

Too little potassium and too much potassium is equally dangerous for our health.

In case we don’t preserve the proper level of potassium, we might experience different symptoms from muscle cramps to more severe conditions, like seizures.

What Leads to Low Potassium Levels

Low potassium levels are also known by the name hypokalemia. Hypokalemia might occur due to something very simple such as dehydration from diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating.

Moreover, it might occur due to something serious like severe burns, adrenal gland issues, and cystic fibrosis. In addition, the low levels might occur due to malnutrition and also from taking diuretics.

What Leads to High Potassium Levels

High potassium levels are also known by the name hyperkalemia. These levels often occur due to kidney damage. That type of damage usually occurs because of poorly controlled blood sugar levels.

The high potassium might happen in case someone has had DKA, i.e., diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a severe metabolic condition that is commonly seen in those affected by type 1 diabetes.

Using ACE inhibitor medications, heart attack, overuse of potassium supplements, infections and injuries might cause high potassium levels.

An excessive amount of potassium might cause heart attack, paralysis, weakness, and irregular heartbeat.

Studies About the Link Between The Chronic Illness and The Mineral

According to studies, there might be a connection between low potassium levels and type 2 diabetes.

There was one research at Johns Hopkins University on this topic. The researchers actually connected low potassium levels with high sugar and high insulin levels in healthy people.

The combination of high insulin and high glucose levels and low potassium levels are traits that doctors link to the chronic disease

Another 2011 study came to the discovery that individuals who take thiazides in order to deal with high blood pressure had a loss of electrolytes – this includes potassium.

According to researchers, this loss might lead to a raised risk of developing the condition. What’s more, researchers connected high blood pressure to potassium levels.

What to Do

In case someone believes that they are at risk of developing the disease or that they might have a deficiency in potassium, it’s best to consult a doctor.

The doctor will see their medical history and talk to them about the potential risk. Moreover, the doctor can easily see the amount of potassium by doing a blood test.

In case the tests indicate abnormal potassium levels, the doctor might recommend specific dietary changes or prescribe a supplement in order to restore the balance.