Diabetes & Potassium


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Potassium (symbol K) is a chemical element that fulfils a number of important functions in the human body. Within the body it can exist as a charged ion (K+) and it is in this form that it is pumped into cells through their cell membrane (the outer lining of the cell) so that it builds up within the cell. This means that the cell ends up with a different charge on the inside than the outside and this charge difference allows forms the basis of neuronal signally and muscle movement. The different in potassium concentration also affects the amount of water excreted in your urine (via your kidneys) and is therefore involved in controlling the volume of blood in your blood stream. If you are diabetic you might find that the level of potassium in your blood is reduced after your inject yourself with insulin due to the fact that insulin will lower your blood sugar level. This effect could be made worse if you are also taking diuretics (“water pills”) to reduce your blood pressure. In this event it is likely that your GP will prescribe you with potassium sparing diuretics in order to ensure that the level of potassium in your blood does no drop to a dangerous level (causing hypokalaemia which leads to muscle cramps and heart arrhythmia).


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