December 2, 2021

What exactly is hyperkalemia? What are the signs and symptoms, and how do you deal with them?

3 min read

The clinical definition for a potassium level in your blood that is higher than usual is Hyperkalemia. Potassium is a mineral that helps neuron and muscle cells, including some in your heart, operate properly. The potassium level in your blood should be between 3.6 and 5.2 millimoles per litre (mmol/L). A blood potassium level of more than 6.0 mmol/L is hazardous and commonly necessitates emergency medical attention. Hyperkalemia is a condition in which potassium levels in the blood are abnormally high. Potassium is a nutrient that can be found in a wide variety of meals. This nutrient aids the operation of your neurons and muscles. However, too much potassium in the blood can harm the heart and lead to cardiac arrest. It’s not always easy to discern if your potassium levels are too high.

What factors contribute to hyperkalemia?

  1. If your kidneys aren’t working properly, hyperkalemia can develop. The kidneys’ job is to keep the quantity of potassium taken in balance with the amount lost in the urine. Potassium is obtained from the meals you consume and the beverages you consume. It is processed by the kidneys before being excreted in the urine. The kidneys can often compensate for elevated potassium levels in the initial stages of renal disease. However, if your kidney function deteriorates, you may find that they are unable to eliminate sufficient potassium from your body. Hyperkalemia is frequently caused by severe renal disease.
  2. Hyperkalemia can also be caused by eating too much potassium-rich food, especially in those with advanced kidney disease. Potassium-rich fruits and vegetables include cantaloupe, honeydew melon, orange juice, and many more others.
  3. Some medications can prevent your kidneys from eliminating sufficient potassium from your body. Potassium levels may rise as a result of this.

Major symptoms of Hyperkalemia

Many folks have few or no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they are typically minor and non-specific. Muscle weakness, coldness, tingling, sickness, or other odd sensations may occur. It normally takes weeks or months to develop and is usually moderate. It may happen again. You may experience heart palpitations, breathlessness, chest pain, nausea, or vomiting if hyperkalemia strikes quickly and your potassium levels are extremely high. Hyperkalemia, whether mild or severe, is a life-threatening disorder. It necessitates rapid medical attention.

What is the best way to control or treat hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

  1. Diuretics, sometimes known as water tablets, cause you to pee more frequently. Potassium is primarily excreted in the urine.
  2. Dangerously high potassium levels must be treated right away. To safeguard your heart, you’ll get a calcium IV infusion. After that, you’ll receive an insulin infusion to aid in the movement of potassium into the blood cells. To further lower potassium levels, you can take albuterol, an asthma drug.
  3. Most people notice a difference after discontinuing or altering some blood pressure medications or other potassium-raising medications. Your doctor will be able to tell you what medications to modify.
  4. Excess potassium in the intestines is bound by a daily prescription. Potassium is excreted when you poop. If other therapies fail to lower potassium levels, your doctor may suggest binders. Oral and enema potassium binders are available.
  5. You may also need dialysis if your potassium levels remain excessive or if you develop renal failure. This medication aids in the removal of unwanted potassium from the bloodstream by the kidneys.

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