The major positive ion (cation) found inside cells. The chemical notation for potassium is K+. The proper level of potassium is essential for normal cell function. An abnormal increase in potassium (hyperkalemia) or decrease in potassium (hypokalemia) can profoundly affect the nervous system and heart, and when extreme, can be fatal. The normal blood potassium level is 3.5’5.0 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L), or 3.5 international units.
- Potassium deficiency
Hypokalemia and Potassium balance.
- Potassium excess
Hyperkalemia and Potassium balance.
An intense and persistent desire to drink alcohol to excess. Synonymous with dipsomania.
- Pott's disease
An old term for tuberculosis of the spine that caused softening and collapse of the vertebrae, often resulting in kyphosis, a “hunchback” deformity, which was called “Pott’s curvature.” Named for the English surgeon Sir John Percivall Pott (1714-1788) who described it.
- Pouch of Douglas
An extension of the peritoneal cavity between the rectum and the back wall of the uterus. Also known as the rectouterine pouch.