Potassium and Multiple Sclerosis
Potassium is a mineral that is crucial for the adequate functioning of muscles as well as the nerve system because one of its main objectives is to collaborate with sodium to regulate the quantity of fluids inside your cells as well as outside. The mineral also plays a part in sending electrical impulses and messages from the nerves. This is one of the main reasons why symptoms reflecting a low level of potassium could be synonymous to the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
MS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin, the substance responsible for protecting the nerves and transmitting electrical impulses. While a lower than normal level of potassium could indicate other problems such as eating disorders, chronic diarrhea and kidney problems, one of the reasons could also be related to Multiple Sclerosis.
This is the official name for the condition in which a person suffers from a potassium level that is lower than normal, classified as less than 3.7 milliequivalent per liter. Once your body is supporting a lower level of potassium, you may go through symptoms like tremors, spasms and general muscle weakness. You may also experience abnormal heart rhythms along with fatigue and constipation. A chronic case of Hypokalemia in which the potassium level is abnormally low can lead to rapid breaking down of muscle tissue, a condition known as rhabdomyolysis. As a result of this, protein myoglobin can be released into the blood that can increase the chances of paralysis or kidney failure.
Which causes which?
The cause and effect relation between potassium deficiency and Multiple Sclerosis is not clear. While many people think that Multiple Sclerosis causes a deficiency of such important minerals, others believe that it is the other way round. The fact of the matter is that identifying the cause of MS and diagnosing it is quite a difficult job which is why determining the exact causal relationship between the disease and deficiency is most often than not, an easy task.
This is one of the primary reasons why getting a suspicion of lower potassium levels checked out thoroughly by the doctor. On the other hand, if you have already been diagnosed with MS, potassium deficiency is one of the associated symptoms that you need to keep an eye out for. If potassium levels do get low in your body, you can get additional potassium supplements as recommended to you by your doctor.
However, you need to know that even if your potassium levels can be stabilized through supplements and through your diet, it does not mean that your MS can be cured. Doctors are using advanced therapy and treatment to slow down the progression of the disease and finding treatments for the symptoms. All of these are ways for maintaining the quality of the patient’s life, both physically and emotionally. Nevertheless, keeping a check on your potassium levels is one of the things you can do for yourself in order to keep the adverse effects of potassium deficiency from teaming up with the symptoms of MS and deteriorating your muscular movements considerably.
As far as I know my potassium levels are ok, I will ask my neurologist for a blood test and continue researching .
Thank you. I believe it has to do with my gastroenteritis. But, I really can’t make sense of it. My diet is just so rich in potassium!
I have been curious about the link for years. 6 years ago, while MS was suspected, I was originally diagnosed with Epilepsy after an unexplainable “episode/flare up” occurred. After 2 years of being on multiple anticonvulsant medications, MS was thought to be a culprit again. However, at that point, I had completed an Advance Diploma in Nutrition, learned how to look after myself and was feeling better than ever. I didn’t want to be poked and prodded or go on anymore medication.
During my time of being diagnosed with Epilepsy, I was also diagnosed with Hypokalaemia. Every time I would have a seizure like episode and be admitted to hospital, I would go onto a Potassium drip. I wondered if there was a link between potassium and the possibility of having MS as there was no direct link to Epilepsy.
I still get “flare ups”, but nothing compared to what it was. Until it worsens, I am happy to continue with living an active well balanced lifestyle. Thanks for sharing this.
[…] to a group of medications called blockers of the potassium channels. They work by preventing potassium from escaping the nerve cells that have been weakened by MS. This drug helps the nervous system by […]