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High potassium: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The body contains many elements necessary for systems to function properly, among them we find potassium. The normal value of this mineral in the body ranges from 3.6 to 4.8 mEq / L and we will find it almost entirely within cells. Potassium is involved in the functioning of the heart, in the transport of oxygen to the brain, in digestion, regulates the levels of water, sodium and acidity in the body, intervenes in the activities of muscles and nerve cells, among others.

This element is discharged mainly through the kidneys, so if there are high potassium values ​​in the blood, it is often due to a kidney problem, and in an advanced state we will observe symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, muscle pain, rhythm irregular heart rate, weakness, fainting and can end in serious complications and even be fatal. For this reason, at FastlyHealwe want you to be well informed about high potassium: causes and treatment .

Causes of high potassium

At high values of potassium in the body is known medically as hyperkalemia , and may be due to the production of a larger amount of potassium in the body or the kidneys are not working properly and not discarded the corresponding amount of this element, what accumulates in the blood. Some of the factors that are possibly causing this condition are:

  • Consumption of certain drugs : some drugs used to combat other conditions could cause a decrease in the elimination of potassium in the kidneys, for example some used for blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, infections, chronic kidney disease, to prevent the formation of blood clots. blood, chemotherapy, etc.
  • Greater contribution of potassium : it is possible that you are consuming a large amount of foods that are rich in potassium and the kidneys cannot discard the daily intake, it also happens when taking supplements that contain this mineral or some salt substitutes. If you suffer from any kidney problem, potassium consumption should be controlled by the recommendations of a nephrologist.
  • Injury : Another reason that high potassium can cause is tissue damage, such as from falls, bumps, burns, and even injuries caused by seizures that were not treated.
  • Blood cell disorders : the level of potassium increases because the blood cells break down and release the potassium they contain. Pathologies such as hemolytic anemia or thrombosis are frequent causes of this condition.
  • Hormonal alteration that intervenes in the kidneys : The absence or scarcity of hormones that regulate the amount of potassium, and other elements, which must be eliminated, causes the accumulation of this mineral in the body. This deficit can be caused by disorders such as Addison’s disease or hypoaldosteronism.
  • Excessive contribution of intracellular potassium : it occurs when the potassium contained in the cells is transported to the external fluid, this happens naturally as an exchange of elements; however, conditions such as acidosis or muscle necrosis cause the release of high amounts of potassium.
  • Kidney failure – This is one of the most common causes of high potassium . The kidneys are responsible for controlling the balance of potassium in the body, so if they work badly, they cannot filter the potassium that is excess in the blood and eliminate it from the body. In this way, potassium accumulates in the body and the levels are altered.
  • Other causes of high potassium : drug use or severe cases of alcoholism can damage cells and the amount of potassium involved in different processes is involved. Likewise, these mineral alterations have been observed in the presence of a tumor or infections, stomach or intestinal bleeding, after surgery or if the body rejects a transplant.

Treatments for high potassium

To start treatment, the doctor must identify the cause of high potassium in the body and prescribe the best way to combat it. In turn, the doctor may suggest a procedure, compatible with your condition, to return potassium to its normal value.

It is vitally important to reduce the level of potassium in the blood if dangerous signs are already being observed, for this we frequently resort to:

  • Low potassium diet : you should reduce the consumption of fruits, vegetables or juices with potassium intake so that the level in the blood does not continue to rise.
  • Diuretics : By stimulating urine production, excess potassium in the kidneys can be discharged. The one that best suits the state of health and contraindications will be used.
  • Insulin and glucose : potassium in the blood decreases due to the intervention of these substances, they also favor the exchange of potassium found in the blood towards the cells.
  • Calcium administration : Calcium chloride and calcium gluconate decrease potassium levels in the muscles and the heart, relieving symptoms such as arrhythmia. They are also used for cases of acidosis, supplementing with calcium bicarbonate.
  • Sodium polystyrene sulfonate : removes excess potassium in the intestines before it is absorbed.
  • Dialysis : in certain situations, when kidney function is not efficient, treatment for high potassium will consist of performing hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis to be able to eliminate this element from the body.

Tips to help treat hyperkalemia

It is essential that the kidneys work properly to keep the body healthy and without high levels of potassium in the blood, since this can be fatal in the most severe cases . For this reason, it is important to follow the treatment indicated by the doctor. But you can also help it by doing a few things, such as:

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week to improve symptoms of hyperkalemia . Also, it is important to drink plenty of water , as dehydration can increase the potassium level in the body.
  • Massage and other alternative therapies such as acupuncture can stimulate kidney function. Therefore, if kidney failure is the cause of hyperkalemia, getting the kidneys to work properly can help lower the potassium level in the blood.
  • It is recommended to follow a varied and balanced diet, without consuming any food or food group in excess. If hyperkalemia is caused by diet, it is important to purify the body so that the kidneys work properly and can eliminate excess potassium.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to High potassium: causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Kidneys and urinary system category .

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