Hypokalemia is defined as a plasma potassium level of less than 3.5 mEq/L in children. It is frequently present in pediatric patients who are critically ill. Potassium is the most abundant intracellular cation and is necessary for maintaining a normal charge difference between intracellular and extracellular environments. Potassium homeostasis is integral to normal cellular function and is tightly regulated by specific ion-exchange pumps, primarily by cellular, membrane-bound, sodium-potassium adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) pumps. Derangements of potassium regulation often lead to neuromuscular, gastrointestinal, and cardiac conduction abnormalities.
- Hypokalemia may be due to a total body deficit of potassium
- Acute causes of potassium depletion include the following:
- Hypokalemia may also be due to excessive potassium shifts from the extracellular to the intracellular space
- Other recognizable causes of hypokalemia include the following:
- Other states of mineralocorticoid excess that may cause hypokalemia include the following:
- Other conditions that may cause hypokalemia include acute myelogenous, monomyeloblastic, or lymphoblastic leukemia.
- Drugs that may cause hypokalemia include the following: Theophylline, Verapamil (with overdose), High-dose penicillin, Ampicillin, Carbenicillin, Drugs associated with magnesium depletion, such as aminoglycosides, amphotericin B, and cisplatin
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