Pregnancy is a pleasant and yet delicate phase of your life. Even though general muscular weakness and fatigue are quite normal during pregnancy, you need to be extra careful about your health. Sometimes, muscle weakness due to hypokalemia can trigger nasty complications and endanger your pregnancy and your unborn baby’s health. So, here we talk about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for hypokalemia in pregnancy.
What Is Hypokalemia?
Hypokalemia means lower than adequate levels of the mineral potassium in your blood than the required levels while expecting. You need to maintain healthy levels of potassium during pregnancy. It helps enhance your muscle and nerve functioning.
Hypokalemia can have adverse effects on your muscles, heart, and nerves. Low potassium levels or untreated hypokalemia can lead to chronic kidney problems and jeopardize your health and your unborn baby’s health. So you need to know all about hypokalemia during pregnancy and contact the doctor immediately if you exhibit any symptoms (1).
Causes Of Hypokalemia In Pregnancy
Hypokalemia during pregnancy can occur due to several reasons, an inadequate level of potassium notwithstanding. Some other causes include:
- Increased levels of hormone aldosterone during pregnancy causes loss of potassium.
- Morning sickness
- Certain antibiotics, such as carbenicillin and gentamicin (2)
[ Read: Morning Sickness During Pregnancy ]
Symptoms Of Hypokalemia During Pregnancy
The symptoms of hypokalemia are difficult to diagnose, as they are similar to symptoms of pregnancy. Here, we list some symptoms of hypokalemia while you are expecting:
- Muscle pain and twitches
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Abdominal cramping
- Extremely low levels of potassium can cause temporary paralysis (3)
Treating Hypokalemia During Pregnancy
Hypokalemia in pregnancy treatment focuses on four facets, such as minimizing potassium losses, replenishing potassium in your body, analyzing potential toxicities, and preventing future troubles due to low potassium levels.
1. Include Potassium Rich Foods:
Adding potassium rich foods to your regular diet during pregnancy can help boost levels of potassium during pregnancy. So eat plenty of bananas, avocados, oranges, spinach, carrots, and other potassium-rich foods (4).
[ Read: Banana During Pregnancy ]
2. Increase Electrolyte Intake:
Increasing the electrolyte intake to 2,000 mg per day during pregnancy can help maintain electrolytes and potassium levels with the raised blood volume while expecting (5).
3. Potassium Oral Supplements:
Consult your doctor before you consider taking oral potassium supplements to treat hypokalemia during pregnancy. You can find potassium supplements in several forms like capsules, powder, tablets, and liquid, which you can mix with food or water to increase your potassium levels while expecting. The dosage of potassium supplements will depend on your individual potassium requirements. Make sure you have only prescribed doses of the supplements, as an excess can trigger side effects (6).
Even though hypokalemia is a medical condition and not surgical, some extreme cases of hypokalemia need surgical intervention. The doctor may recommend surgery in case of adrenal adenoma, intestinal obstruction leading to massive vomiting, renal artery stenosis, and villous adenoma.
Preventing Hypokalemia During Pregnancy
As you need more potassium during pregnancy than usual, you should consult your doctor about raising your potassium intake to prevent hypokalemia while you are expecting. And, here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Eat potassium-rich foods, such as potatoes, white beans, tomato, and yogurt.
- Raise your electrolyte intake.
- Consult doctor about potassium supplements and have them according to your doctor’s prescription (7).
[ Read: Potato During Pregnancy ]
Did you suffer from hypokalemia during pregnancy? What did you do to treat the condition effectively? Share your knowledge and experience with other expecting moms. Please leave a comment in the section below.
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