The Dangers of Being a Picky Eater: Hypokalemia

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a picky eater.  I was very selective about what I would eat. I did not know the consequences of being one will get me a disease that will change my life. I don’t have a lot of things that I eat. I mostly eat junk food and fast food. I seldom eat fruits and vegetables. I also drink carbonated drinks like Coke as if its water. Because of my poor diet, I gradually lost my appetite. I became weak and I also lost a lot of weight.

I slowly felt the changes in my body. The first is when I felt a lockjaw coming like I cannot get my mouth to open. I even chewed gum to exercise my jaws. I dismissed it and forgotten about it. The next one is when I went outside of my house to buy something. It was only a couple of steps away and I find myself exhausted. I barely make it home that day. The next day, I cannot get myself to get up. I cannot move my limbs and felt as if they were made of lead. I can’t carry my body. Even my head feels like a ton, I have to carry it with my hand to keep it upright. When I eat, I find it hard to swallow.

I was rushed to the hospital and the doctors ran some tests. I was diagnosed with Hypokalemia.Hypokalemia is from the root words “hypo” which means low and “kalium” the Latin word for potassium. So it literally means low potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps muscles contract, regulates our fluids in and out of our cells and helps maintain our bloods pressure. An average person is supposed to have an average potassium level of 4 and I have 2.71.

Hypokalemia targets the muscles. Its symptoms are: you lose muscle control, have diarrhea, difficulty of breathing, lack of saliva and most severe cases cause heart failure. Hypokalemia is caused by a lot of factors. It can be caused by a thyroid problem, kidney failure, lack of magnesium and calcium or poor diet. In my case, it is because of a poor diet. There is no cure for it. The only treatment is to get your potassium level higher. You can take a potassium supplement. Avoid eating a lot of starch and carbonated drinks because it eats the potassium. The most effective way is to eat foods that are rich in potassium. Some of the most potassium-rich foods are bananas, white beans, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, corn, yogurt and many others.

Since most of the foods I have to eat are not what I was used to, it takes a lot of effort to eat these things. It doesn’t help that I have no appetite. Also because of my weakened muscles, I also have to eat protein-rich foods to build them up.

I spent almost 3 weeks in the hospital. When I was discharged, I was not fully recovered. It took me several months to be able to recover. I decided to take it slow and to not force myself. I gradually changed my diet. I worked to bring back my appetite. I also took short walks every morning to exercise.

Now, I am a changed person. I learned my lesson the hard way. I had to put my life in danger to be able to see what I had done wrong all this time. But because of this experience, I promised myself that I would do better.

Today, I can honestly say that I’m no longer a picky eater. I decided to eat healthy foods. I regained my appetite and was able to double my weight. It’s been months since I last ate junk food. I still drink carbonated drinks but only a glass every once in a while. It is been over year since that incident and I have no plans to go through it all over again.

gumnut / Pixabay


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