Exhausted, hello again. I hope this posting of mine doesn’t bore you. You probably already know these things but just in case you don’t I wanted you to have a basic understanding of the effects of your husbands diuetics. “300 mg spironolactone and 4 mg bumetanide”. Of course he has to take them to control the fluid buildup and I suspect high blood pressure. Because of your concern about his electrolytes (potassium, sodium etc) I wanted to hopefully help you understand what they are and how they work. I know that this is really simplified but I hope it helps a little.
Medical terms: Hypokalemia=low potassium, Hyperkalemia=high potassium
How do we know what our potassium level is? Blood tests indicate potassium levels which are ordered and monitored by the DR. The Frequency of the tests are determined by the results of the previous blood tests and symptoms as well as to monitor results of the medications taken.
What potassium is: Potassium is a mineral required to sustain life by helping the kidneys to function normally.
What potassium does: Potassium plays a primary role in smooth muscle contraction, (that includes the heart muscle). Potassium works hand in hand with the sodium levels and magnesium levels. That is why the Dr will most likely order a test called “electrolytes” which include potassium, sodium, chloride, etc. Magnesium levels are not usually included and ordered separately.
Causes of low potassium: Diuretics, diarrhea, excessive vomiting, prolonged profuse sweating, coffee and alcohol can also decrease levels. There are other causes but I listed the most common ones.
How do we lose potassium? Mainly through urination
Signs and Symptoms of hypokalemia: Muscle cramps, weakness, no energy, stomach problems, and heart problems, such as an irregular heart beat.
Can hypokalemia be fatal? Yes it can- mainly by affecting the heart which is a muscle.
Treatment: Usually the Dr will Rx potassium pills to give the body back what it has lost.
Is treatment successful? In most cases yes it is.
I hope this helps in understanding potassium levels and why your Dr orders the lab tests
Educate yourself as much as possible. Look everything that you don’t understand up on the web. Take notes, download what you can, make folders and label them. It keeps it all organized. Also every time you get lab tests taken ask your DR for a copy. They should have NO PROBLEM giving you a copy of the results. Keep them in the folder too. That way you can monitor them.
Smart people make smart choices!