Differential Diagnosis

Treatment with drugs

  • Loop or thiazide diuretics

  • Mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone and corticosterone

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  • Antibiotics such as carbenicillin and ticarcillin

GI losses of potassium from vomiting, diarrhea, malabsorption


  • Aldosteronism may be primary or secondary, as in renal artery stenosis.

Endogenous or exogenous increase in corticosteroids from Cushing syndrome or dietary or parenteral potassium deprivation (IV fluids w/out potassium supplementation)

Alkalosis from extracellular to intracellular shift of potassium

Excess licorice ingestion

Suggested Additional Lab Testing

Serum aldosterone to assess for primary and secondary hyperaldosteronism

24-hour urine free cortisol to assess for Cushing syndrome

Blood gases to evaluate possible alkalosis