According to Elson (2000), potassium is one of the most common prescribed minerals. This mineral is crucial to cardiovascular and nerve functions. When potassium is low fatigue is the most common symptom. The early symptoms include muscle weakness, slow reflexes, and dry skin or acne; these initial problems may progress to nervous disorders, insomnia, slow or irregular heartbeat, and loss of gastrointestinal tone. A sudden loss of potassium may lead to cardiac arrhythmia. Low potassium may impair glucose metabolism and lead to elevated blood sugar. In more severe potassium deficiency, there can be serious muscle weakness, bone fragility, central nervous system changes, decreased heart rate, and even death. To prevent hypokalemia, the doctors carefully monitor serum potassium levels and prescribe supplements to patients who are in the high-risk categories. Most patients who develop hypokalemia are placed on either oral or parenteral potassium supplements. Potassium is not administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously because potassium is a profound tissue irritant. Parenteral potassium should be administered with extreme caution. Potassium solutions irritate veins and can cause a chemical phlebitis.
Foods high in potassium can help restore potassium levels as well as prevent further potassium loss. Collaboration between the nurse and a registered dietician can ensure accurate teaching on dietary maintenance of potassium levels. Common foods high in potassium are bananas, cantaloupe, raisins, skim milk, avocados, mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes. Interventions are focused on the prevention of potassium imbalances, restoration of normal potassium balance, and supportive care for altered body functions until the hypokalemia is resolved. Teach Mr Brown to increase his dietary intake of potassium by encourage him to eat bulk-forming foods and drink at least 2 L of fluid a day unless fluids. Evaluate Mr Brown's knowledge of dietary sources of potassium,...
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