Potassium with Long-Term Use of Chlorthalidone

Chlorthalidone is blood pressure, electrolyte disturbance and liquid retention prescription medicine that is also known by the name of Thalitone. It belongs to diuretics group of drugs. Chlorthalidone is an oral tablet that is used to treat other conditions as well: Diabetes Insipidus: When diabetics produce urine in larger amounts than the intake of fluids, it causes dehydration and thirstiness. Edema due to Heart Failure: The medicine relaxes the muscles around the blood vessels, allowing the blood to move more freely and lowering blood pressure and reducing the chances for a heart attack.

Even though this medication helps certain conditions, continued use can cause problems that could be risky for your health. When Chlorthalidone is ingested, it causes the kidneys to secrete more sodium and water than normal. This secretion causes a reduction in certain minerals like potassium.

Potassium is needed in the body for muscle contractions, fluid balance, and nerve functions. A person suffering from low potassium, or hypokalemia also known as hypopotassemia, might experience the following:

Weakness and Fatigue

Because the potassium amount cannot effectively control muscles and balance fluids, a person will feel weak and tired in this condition.

Muscle Cramps and Spasms

When potassium is low, the brain doesn’t get the signal of when muscle contractions should stop resulting in muscle cramps and spasms.

Digestive Problems

Potassium controls the contracting of muscles like those in the stomach. The stomach muscles weaken and improperly digest foods creating bloating and constipation when potassium is low.

Heart Palpitations

If you've ever felt a skip in the beating of your heart or a fluttering in your chest, then you've experienced heart palpitations. Potassium regulates the heart, and low potassium can result in palpitations and more serious heart conditions if not treated.

Stiff and Achy Muscles

Because potassium regulates muscle contractions when levels are extremely low muscles stiffen and ache through loss of blood flow through them.

Tingling and Numbness

Tingling and numbness in the extremities—hands, feet, arms, and legs—are a result of potassium loss. Because potassium regulates nerve signals, low potassium causes weak signals which can result in numbness and tingling.  

Breathing Difficulty

Controlling muscle contractions is one of the functions of potassium. When potassium is low, the lungs weaken and cause loss of breath. If potassium levels are dangerously low, a person could die. 

HYPOKALEMIC ALKALOSIS

Although this condition can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, and the abuse of laxatives, antacids, and alcohol, it is also a result of low potassium. When a patient uses Chlorthalidone for an extended period, the diuretic in the medicine causes substantial amounts of much-needed potassium to exit the body through the kidneys. This results in problems with the kidneys. As a muscle, the kidney cannot function properly without the proper level of potassium.

There are several ways to increase your potassium levels.

Diet

Certain foods are high in potassium:

  • Fruit: bananas, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, apricots, tomatoes, and avocado;
  • Vegetables: white beans, peas, greens, beets, potatoes (white and sweet), and spinach;
  • Meat: chicken, tuna, and turkey;
  • Juices: prune, orange, and grapefruit.

Although the ingestion of vitamins and minerals is encouraged by health fitness gurus, the over the counter version of potassium supplements are not recommended because of the low dosage amounts that would not effectively treat low potassium levels.

Therefore, prescribed pills or oral liquids are recommended. That way your healthcare provider can give you the amount that would improve your condition. And if you have to take medication that makes the low potassium condition ongoing, then having a steady supply of more potassium is imperative. 

Another option is administering the potassium through the veins. This can be done in a hospital upon your doctor’s approval. When this is done, it is done slowly as doing it too fast may irritate the veins and the heart.

Thus, one of the issues with which you have to deal is the fact that if gone untreated, you may experience irreparable damage to your body systems. It’s important that you report any symptoms to your doctors immediately and that doctors regularly check for drops in potassium levels, especially in patients who have been using Chlorthalidone long term. If caught early, treatments can be administered to preserve your health. 

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