Could I Be Taking Too Much Potassium?

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Nicole Says:
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I was at work one day and my blood pressure dropped to 75/43 so I went to the hospital because I'm normally very healthy and I didn't feel right. So the doctor ran tests and said I have low potassium but didn't say how low just gave me a prescription to take one pill a day of potassium chloride 10meq for 14 days. But somebody was telling me that you can take too much potassium and it could be deadly. What I'm asking is do you think the dr prescribed the right amount for me? And should I follow up with a dr? Sorry my anxiety is getting the best of me just wanna ease my mind a little



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Yuaniq Says:

Levels of either too high and too low of potassium can both be fatal (that's why the MD gave you potassium chloride tabs to take). So, yes, you can take too much but if you were already too low, then the amount he gave you (10meq is the minimum dosage) then you should be okay. Although as a nurse, I would recommend you follow up with your primary care MD for another lab analysis to confirm your levels have come back up (otherwise you may end up with the same symptoms and back seeking medical treatment again). If you continue to have low levels, then this is something that your doctor should further investigate. However excessive exercising and sweating (especially in the summer time) can cause some mild electrolyte depletion---but if you are a healthy person, this alone shouldn't be enough to cause your potassium levels to drop BELOW normal.

So, YES, you should follow up with your doctor (so they can make sure your levels come back up) and then make sure you get another lab check in maybe 3mos or so (to make sure there is no low level again). Also, note that even though the MD gave you potassium chloride 10meq, this is NOT the same thing as the over-the-counter supplements that you find in the drug store. The potassium in the "pharmaceutical grade" prescription version is absorbed much different (and better) than the one that you'd get over-the-counter. Theoretically, you do not want to take any additional supplementation of potassium unless directed by a physician (because, as you already know, high levels of potassium in the blood can be "toxic" and incompatible with life.)

Finally, I would say that 14 days of it is a bit long from what I've normally seen prescribed, however, there is no telling how low your K level was so I'm sure the MD knew what he was doing. Again, though, if you follow up with your doctor for another lab analysis , this will alleviate your concerns and allow the MD to recheck your potassium levels again after you've been taking the potassium chloride. Hope this information is helpful.

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