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Hypokalemia is a topic covered in the Diagnosaurus.

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Emergency Central

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Decreased potassium intake Potassium shift into cell

  • Insulin excess, eg, postprandial
  • Alkalosis
  • Beta-adrenergic agonists
  • Trauma (possibly via epinephrine)
  • Hypokalemic periodic paralysis
Renal potassium loss Increased aldosterone (mineralocorticoid) effects
  • Primary hyperaldosteronism
  • Secondary hyperaldosteronism (dehydration, heart failure)
  • Renovascular or malignant hypertension
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • European licorice (inhibits cortisol)
  • Renin-producing tumor
  • Congenital abnormality of steroid metabolism (eg, adrenogenital syndrome, 17?-hydroxylase defect)
Increased flow of distal nephron
  • Diuretics (furosemide, thiazides)
  • Salt-losing nephropathy
  • Unreabsorbable anion
  • Carbenicillin, penicillin
Renal tubular acidosis (type I or II)
  • Fanconi's syndrome
  • Interstitial nephritis
  • Metabolic alkalosis (bicarbonaturia)
Genetic disorder of the nephron
  • Bartter's syndrome
  • Liddle's syndrome
Extrarenal potassium loss
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, laxative abuse
  • Villous adenoma, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (gastrinoma)

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Last updated: December 1, 2014


Zeiger, Roni F.. "Hypokalemia." Diagnosaurus, 4th ed., McGraw-Hill Education, 2014. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/Diagnosaurus/114276/all/Hypokalemia.
Zeiger RF. Hypokalemia. Diagnosaurus. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill Education; 2014. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/Diagnosaurus/114276/all/Hypokalemia. Accessed August 17, 2019.
Zeiger, R. F. (2014). Hypokalemia. In Diagnosaurus. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/Diagnosaurus/114276/all/Hypokalemia
Zeiger RF. Hypokalemia [Internet]. In: Diagnosaurus. McGraw-Hill Education; 2014. [cited 2019 August 17]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/Diagnosaurus/114276/all/Hypokalemia.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Hypokalemia ID - 114276 A1 - Zeiger,Roni F, Y1 - 2014/12/01/ BT - Diagnosaurus UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/Diagnosaurus/114276/all/Hypokalemia PB - McGraw-Hill Education ET - 4 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -