Potassium is one of the important nutrients required for human health. It will help to maintain a healthy heart and proper muscle function. Usually, the kidney will maintain a healthy potassium level by flushing the excess potassium from the body. But for some reason, the potassium level in the body will go too high. It is called high potassium or hyperkalemia.
Hyperkalemia is mostly caused for people who have chronic kidney disease. Usually, high potassium does not show any symptoms, so you have to take a blood test to check the potassium level. Untreated hyperkalemia may become a life threat, it results in irregular heartbeat and sometimes cardiac arrest. Based on the conditions of hyperkalemia, it will weaken the body muscles.
If you are not taking any medicines for high potassium, it will lead to paralysis. Luckily, there are several treatments available to lower the high potassium level. If you think that you have a risk of hyperkalemia, you can get advice from your healthcare provider to lower the potassium level.
What is a normal and safe potassium level?
Generally, the potassium levels for the adult are fallen between 3.5 to 5 millimoles per liter. When the potassium level goes more than 5.5 mmol/L, it causes hyperkalemia. If the potassium level goes more than 6.5 mmol/L, it may cause heart problems, so people who have more than 6.6 mmol/L should immediately require medical attention.
What Causes Hyperkalemia?
Hyperkalemia is caused by several things, including some of your health problems and your medications.
Chronic Kidney Problem: Kidney failure is one of the important reasons for high potassium. If your kidney failure or does not function properly, it will not remove the excess potassium from the body that leads to high potassium.
Taking Certain Medicines: Having Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like naproxen and ibuprofen, cyclosporine, some diuretics, angiotensin, trimethoprim, beta-blockers, inhibitors, succinylcholine, calcium blockers, heparin, digoxin, and mannitol will have the chance of increasing potassium level in the blood.
Untreated or Uncontrolled Diabetes: Lack of insulin also causes high potassium in the blood.
Injury: Damaged tissues also change and shift the potassium level in the body.
Heart Problem: In some cases, heart failure and medication will cause hyperkalemia.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: It is a rare disease that comes from a gene mutation that will lower the level of aldosterone. It also causes high potassium levels in the blood.
Hypoaldosteronism: Lack of hormone aldosterone is also cause high potassium.
Pseudohyperkalemia: It will cause when the person falsely gets a high potassium level. It will happen when you use syringes and other methods that cause hemolysis and break down the red blood cells.
Consuming high potassium: Consuming too much potassium through your diet or medicines also causes hyperkalemia. This is rare, but it will happen for people who are affected by kidney problems.
Hyperkalemia Treatment Options
The treatment for hyperkalemia is varied based on its type. The types of hyperkalemia are chronid hyperkalemia and acute hyperkalemia.
Acute hyperkalemia will cause within a few hours or a day. It requires medical emergency and treatment in hospital. At the hospital, the doctors will take some tests and fix electrocardiograms to monitor your heart function. The treatments will be based on the severity. In the treatment doctors may use diuretics or potassium binder to remove excess potassium from the blood, In some severe cases, patients require dialysis.
If the changes in the electrocardiogram indicate hyperkalemia then intravenous calcium is required to protect your heart from arrhythmias until the potassium level becomes normal in your blood. In severe cases, this is a lifesaving treatment. In this treatment, doctors are also using the combination of plus glucose, intravenous insulin, sodium bicarbonate, and albuterol. These combinations will help to move the potassium from the blood to cells. It is also used to treat metabolic acidosis and some other problems that are related to CKD.
Usually, chronic hyperkalemia will develop in several weeks or months. It can be treated by using home remedies. You can easily treat chronic hyperkalemia by changing your diet, medicines and start using medicines like potassium binders.
How To Lower Potassium Level
Usually, the treatment for hyperkalemia is based on seriousness like how quickly it comes on, and what is the reason for it. Here are some of the methods to lower the potassium level in the blood.
Potassium binders and diuretics are two common types of medicines that are used to treat hyperkalemia. Diuretics will help to increase the flow of sodium, water, and other electrolytes like potassium out from the body. This is a very common treatment for both chronic and acute hyperkalemia. Diuretics are also helping to lower the blood pressure level and reduce swelling, but it is also causing some side effects like dehydration.
A potassium binder will work well to treat hyperkalemia. It will get rid of excess potassium in the body through a bowel movement. Doctors prescribe several types of potassium binder such as calcium polystyrene sulfonate (CPS), sodium polystyrene sulfonate (SPS), sodium zirconium cyclosilicate, patiromer. SPS is a commonly used potassium binder, it will be associated with bowel necrosis, so it is highly recommended for older people.
Sodium zirconium cyclosilicate and patiromer are the newly recommended medicines for hyperkalemia. Both of these medicines are very effective for people who have diabetes or heart problems. You have to talk to your doctor about which treatment is better for you.
High Potassium Food To Avoid
People who have chronic kidney disease (CKD) should limit or avoid foods that have high potassium levels. Having high potassium in your blood will cause some serious health problems that will make you weak. Your dietitian or doctor can help you to maintain the right amount of potassium in your blood.
Here we mentioned some foods that people who have CKD should avoid consuming. Potatoes, nuts, bananas, avocados, dairy products, fast foods, salty foods, beans and legumes, spinach, tomatoes, honeydew and cantaloupe, processed meats, whole grains and bran, and vegetable juices are some of the high potassium foods. Restrictions in your diet will help to protect your kidney from further damages.
Low Potassium Foods To Add to Diet
Low potassium foods are safe for people who are suffering from CKD. According to the research conducted by the American Kidney Foundation, potassium restricted diet also contains 2000 milligrams of potassium. Anyhow, a dietitian or doctor is the best one to suggest your diet foods based on your requirements.
There are a lot of foods that contain low potassium levels. Half a cup of low potassium foods is the recommended level to serve. But consuming more than the recommended level will turn that food from a low potassium option to high potassium food, so it is very important to consume at the recommended level. Apple, berries, pineapple, grapes, asparagus, watermelon, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cucumbers, noodles, white rice, zucchini, bread, and yellow squash are the foods that contain low potassium.
Avoid Herbal Remedies
Most people are taking herbal supplements or remedies to maintain overall health, it is better to avoid those medicines if you are suffering from hyperkalemia. The ingredients of those medicines contain high potassium levels that may have the chance to increase the potassium levels in the body.
Some of the herbal supplements that have high potassium levels are dandelion, alfalfa, hawthorn berries, milkweed, horsetail, nettle, lily of the valley, Siberian ginseng, noni juice, bufo, senso, or chan’su. You have to consult with your doctor before taking any over-the-country supplements.
How To Diagnose High Potassium?
Taking a simple blood test will help you to easily find out the potassium level in your blood. If you are at risk of hyperkalemia, you have to ask your healthcare provider about the potassium level in the blood. Most people have high potassium, but only a few of them have that symptom. If you feel any symptoms, then they will be mild.
Usually, high potassium will develop very slowly over many weeks or months. Mostly the potassium level in the blood should between 3.5 to 5 that depending on the testing material that you used. If the potassium level is suddenly high in your blood it may make you feel shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, and vomiting. These are life-threatening problems, so the people who are experiencing this problem immediately require medical care.
Symptoms of High Potassium
The high potassium symptoms depend on the potassium level in your blood. Mostly, you do not feel any symptoms of high potassium. But if the potassium level is high enough to show up the symptoms, you may feel weakness or tiredness, vomiting or nausea, feeling tingling or numbness, chest pain, trouble in breathing, irregular heartbeat, or palpitations. In some extreme cases, the high potassium will cause heart failure or paralysis. If you are not taking any treatment for high potassium, it may stop your heart function.
We can’t completely cut down potassium because it is one of the essential nutrients that help manage our body function. Potassium take an important role in our health, such as it helps to construct muscles, regulating blood pressure levels, maintaining the electrolyte balance, helps to remove waste from the body, maintaining heart function, delivering oxygen to the brain, Promotes healthy cell growth, and stabilize the metabolic process.
The symptoms of high potassium will not occur in the early stages, so you should take a regular blood test to check the potassium level in your blood. If the blood test shows that the potassium level is high in your blood, you should consult with your doctor for further treatment. If the potassium level is dangerously high, your doctor may prescribe for dialysis or hospitalization. But, if the potassium level is slightly high and you do not get the symptoms of hyperkalemia then your doctor will monitor your condition with some medications.