With diabetes and insulin therapy we all develop better senses for your body. Just for the benefit of detecting lows earlier for example. For months these senses are now telling me that something is not right. I could feel my heartbeat more than usual and I got the impression that sometimes there were beats in between. This is not unusual even for healthy people but for me it felt odd.
Now some blood tests have revealed that I have a deficit of potassium (called Hypokalemia). Not surprisingly I felt better after the first potassium supplementation.
The cause - and this is the reason for this blog - can be tight glucose control. Insulin does not only regulate the glucose transport it does regulate the potassium transport too. With tight control it is likely that we will administer more insulin than is normally needed. This excessive insulin will cause some lows we will treat with glucose. At the same time it will cause the cells to consume more potassium from the blood stream and this can lead to a chronic deficit. This is also stated in the package insert of insulin but was not my concern so far.
As a conclusion people with tight targets for their control should make sure that their potassium levels are monitored. Even proactive supplementation seems to be advisable for diabetics on insulin treatment.
A funny side note: In 2010 I have participated in a discussion about Insulin and potassium. There I asked "How does it feel to have low potassium levels?". Well, now I know ;-)