People who suffer from hyperkalemia have too much potassium in the bloodstream.
Potassium is measured in mmol/L (millimoles per liter) and a normal rating is somewhere between 3.6 and 5.2. Sometimes, the body can get too much potassium and have a level over 6.0. If that’s the case, then it’s far too high and medical treatment is needed.
Hyperkalemia is sign of potentially dangerous situations soon to be had. People who suffer from hyperkalemia are usually showing a sign that something else is wrong in the body. Hyperkalemia is heavily linked to the kidney, so it’s possible that it’s a sign of kidney issues. It can also cause complications with the heart. There are methods to help treat hyperkalemia and help return potassium levels to normal.
Causes of Hyperkalemia
It’s important to note that not all cases of high potassium are hyperkalemia. Ruptured blood cells can also cause a report. However, there are several reasons that someone might get hyperkalemia. These include:
- Kidney Disease - The most common cause of hyperkalemia, the kidney is responsible for balancing potassium in the bloodstream. Typically, it balances it against that which is lost through urine. As kidney disease develops, it’s likely they just can't filter enough potassium from the blood. This results in a buildup within the bloodstream.
- Diet - People who eat large amounts of food that is high in potassium can cause hyperkalemia. This often goes hand in hand with some degree of kidney disease. Foods that are high in potassium include bananas, melons (honeydew and cantaloupe especially) and orange juice.
- Medication - There are some medications and drugs which may affect the kidney. They can cause the kidney to avoid filtering out enough potassium, and result in elevated potassium levels.
- Addison's Disease - This is a disorder in which the body’s hormone balance is off. This can mean that common responses in the body do not
- Diabetes - If someone is doing a bad job at controlling their diabetes, it’s possible for the kidneys to struggle, which in turn can cause hyperkalemia.
- Severe Injury - People who get hurt or badly burned may find that they end up suffering from hyperkalemia. The body can release extra potassium into the blood when it has been hurt.
Symptoms of Hyperkalemia
One of the biggest issues with hyperkalemia is the lack of symptoms. Most of the symptoms that can occur are not specific to hyperkalemia and they are rather mild, if they are felt at all. This combination can often mean that it’s more likely for this to be caught due to blood tests to determine other issues.
Symptoms can be felt in some cases. They include obvious symptoms like nausea, tingling feelings, numb feelings and muscle weakness. The only time symptoms really come through is when hyperkalemia becomes very serious with incredibly high potassium levels. In those cases, people may feel chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, vomit or feel nauseous. In these causes, immediate medical care is necessary!
Treatment of Hyperkalemia
Once hyperkalemia has been determined, it’s likely that the next step will be to change to a low potassium diet. There are several foods which need to be avoided. Potassium can pop up as a surprise in many different foods, so making use of a dietitian can be a great way to ensure that there are no mistakes made.
There are also some medications that can help to reduce the excess potassium in the body. Water pills cause more urine to be created and in turn, more potassium to be expelled through it. There are also a form of medication called potassium binders. They can help remove extra calcium through the bowels after being ingested with water. These potassium binders can carry negative interactions with many other medications and need to be taken exactly according to instructions.