Chronic hypokalemia due to excessive cola consumption, a case report in Cases Journal
A 52-year-old man was noted to have severe chronic hypokalemia despite discontinuation of diuretic treatment for hypertension and aggressive oral potassium supplementation. His serum potassium normalized temporarily when he was hospitalized, but hypokalemia recurred after discharge. He complained of generalized weakness and fatigue, and occasional loose stools. Physical examination showed mild generalized muscle weakness. Laboratory testing ruled out renal potassium wasting. A dietary history revealed that he was consuming 4 liters of cola per day, with a calculated fructose load of 396 grams per day. Since fructose absorption in the small bowel is relatively inefficient, this probably led to an osmotic diarrhea and GI potassium wasting. Physicians should ask their patients about soft drink consumption when they encounter unexplained hypokalemia.