Few people know what Hyperkalemia is because, in reality, it is not such a common condition. Often, it is not a primary diagnosis but appears due to other diseases. Hyperkalemia occurs when the potassium level in the blood is higher than usual and is known in medicine as Hyperkalemia.
Potassium is an essential macromineral for the body’s cells to function correctly. It is obtained through food, and the kidneys eliminate its excess to guarantee an adequate balance of this substance in the body. There may be many reasons that lead to an increase in potassium in the blood. To know them, in this FastlyHealarticle, we explain the causes of Hyperkalemia, symptoms, and treatment.
Table of Contents
Causes of hyperkalemia
As the kidneys are responsible for eliminating excess potassium to prevent it from accumulating in the blood, Hyperkalemia is associated with impaired kidney function. If the kidneys are not working correctly, they cannot purify the excess potassium that we offer to the body through food. However, sometimes kidney damage is the result of other types of diseases, so the accumulation of potassium can be due to:
- Burns in various parts of the body.
- Addison’s disease.
- Drugs to treat high blood pressure that acts as ACE inhibitors.
- Damage to cells from drug and alcohol use, seizures, surgeries, injuries, falls, chemotherapies, or some infections.
- Rupture of blood cells due to some pathology such as hemolytic anemia.
- She was bleeding from the stomach or intestines.
- Consumption of potassium supplements.
- Insulin deficiency in people with diabetes can lead to Hyperkalemia.
- The adrenal glands also help regulate potassium in the blood, so Hyperkalemia is sometimes a sign of hormonal disease.
Symptoms of hyperkalemia
People usually find out they have Hyperkalemia by chance when they do blood tests, as the symptoms of Hyperkalemia are very mild and sometimes non-existent. Some manifestations of excess potassium in the blood are:
- Weak, irregular, or slow pulse.
- Sudden fainting due to a decrease in the rate of heart palpitations or even due to paralysis.
- Chest pain.
Tests and exams for Hyperkalemia
When a person has Hyperkalemia, the main goal is to determine what is causing it. To obtain a diagnosis, your GP will likely decide to perform tests that can guide you and help you determine why potassium is elevated in your blood. Some tests that the doctor may order are:
- Potassium level in the blood.
- Kidney blood tests if you take heart disease medications, potassium supplements, have chronic kidney disease or use salt substitutes.
Treatment of hyperkalemia
When potassium levels are excessively high, the person may need emergency treatment. Emergency treatment may suggest:
- Intravenous administration of calcium to counteract the effects that high potassium levels can cause to the muscles and the heart.
- Intravenous administration of insulin or glucose to rapidly lower potassium levels and reverse the condition.
- Kidney dialysis if kidney function is severely compromised.
- Medicines remove potassium from the intestines before it is absorbed.
- Sodium bicarbonate supply when Hyperkalemia is caused by acidosis.
Some changes in daily life can help treat Hyperkalemia, so your doctor will likely ask you to:
- Reduce the consumption of asparagus, avocado, potato, tomato, and cooked tomato, pumpkin, and spinach sauces.
- Reduce the consumption of oranges and juice of oranges, grapes, raisins, kiwi, nectarines, melon, plums, nuts, and bananas.
- Eat a low-salt diet and stop using salt substitutes.
The medical specialist may also order you to change or suspend some medications:
- Stop taking potassium supplements.
- Stop or change medicines for heart disease or high blood pressure. It may also be suggested to adjust the dosage.
- Take a diuretic to reduce high potassium levels if you have kidney failure.
Following medical recommendations is essential to ensure adequate recovery and get potassium levels back to good.
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.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.