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Q I know bananas are rich in potassium, but I don't like them. Why do I need potassium, and can I get it from other foods?

A Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that the body needs for proper nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and kidney and heart function. Adults need 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium each day, a number that many people don't reach--especially those with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Certain medications, such as loop diuretics, steroids, and certain antibiotics, can also lower the amount of potassium in the body and contribute to a deficiency.

People with low potassium have a higher risk of developing hypertension, especially if they eat a lot of salt. Potassium deficiency can also remove calcium from the bones while increasing the amount in urine, which can lead to kidney stones. Severe potassium deficiency (hypokalemia), can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, and constipation in the early stages. As it worsens, it can cause high blood sugar, increased urination, difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, decreased brain function, and irregular heartbeat.

At the other end of the spectrum is hyperkalemia, or too much potassium. While rare, this condition can occur in people who have chronic kidney disease and those who use angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and potassium-sparing diuretics.

There are many foods that are rich in potassium, and quite a few contain even more potassium than a banana, which clocks in at 422 mg.

* Half of an avocado will give you 487 mg.

* A sweet potato contains 541 mg.

* White potatoes are close behind at 515 mg.

* A cup of spinach yields 540 mg.

* Two wedges of watermelon will give you 640 mg.

* A cup of white beans has 829 mg, and black beans come in at 611 mg.

* A cup of butternut squash provides 582 mg.

* Other sources include orange juice, tomatoes, broccoli, lentils, soybeans, milk, meat, poultry, and fish.

If that's not enough, you can also get potassium from supplements. While there are many forms of the mineral, the National Institutes of Health reports that they all work equally well.

Q My eyelids have grown droopier over time and now affect my vision. What can you tell me about eyelid surgery for this condition?

A As people age, drooping skin and excess fat can collect around the eyes, while weakened eyelid muscles can cause further drooping. This can become more than a cosmetic issue for some people when the skin blocks part of the pupil and interferes with vision.

Eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, removes that excess skin and fat (and sometimes muscle) to lift the eyelids. This moves the skin out of the way of your field of vision. Many people also undergo eyelid surgery to restore a more youthful look to the eyes.

The first step is to see an ophthalmologist or oculoplastic surgeon so your vision can be tested. Health insurers will cover this procedure only if it affects vision, but not if it's done for cosmetic reasons.

The best candidates for eye surgery are people who are in generally good health and who do not smoke. Most people who have the procedure are over the age of 35, when signs of aging begin to appear around the eyes. The procedure itself is usually done under local anesthesia with oral or intravenous sedation. It takes 30 minutes to two hours, depending on what the surgeon does. You will have stiches for about a week, and bruising and swelling for 10 to 14 days. After surgery, your eyes may temporarily be more sensitive to light, tear more easily, and feel itchy or burning. Surgeons try to place incisions strategically to hide any scars.

Many people are pleased with the results of blepharoplasty and its effect on vision, but some experience a recurrence of droopy eyelids in five to seven years and may require another, and possibly different, procedure.
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Title Annotation:BONES & JOINTS
Publication:Duke Medicine Health News
Date:Mar 27, 2019
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