Potassium is a mineral substance highly needed by the body. It is capable of preventing muscle contractions. Since potassium is considered an electrolyte, it is responsible for sending impulses and messages through the nerves. However, an elevated potassium level is not good because it can cause a number of complications in the nervous system such as sending wrong signals, paralysis, or hyperkalemia that can eventually affect the heart. In this regard, many have asked to know how to lower potassium levels in the blood.
High levels of potassium result in the hyperkalemia which can result in an irregular heartbeat called arrhythmia, a disorder detectable through an electrocardiogram (ECG) exam. The occurrence of this heart illness is severely aggravated when the kidneys are no longer capable of filtering out the excessive potassium in the blood. Also, a high potassium level can greatly dehydrate the cells and transforms carbohydrates into glucose.
Medicinenet.com mentioned that nearly eight per cent of hospitalized individuals in the United States are suffering from hyperkalemia. While mild hyperkalemia cases can be tolerated, severe hyperkalemia cases can lead to cardiac arrest. In order to avoid all these serious effects, let us find out some important tips that can help in lowering potassium levels:
Know the normal range of potassium levels. This is important in order to help the patient identify his or her potassium level. Remember, hyperkalemia does not manifest revealing symptoms until the patient’s potassium is already high.
The normal range of potassium level in the blood is anywhere between 3.5 to 5.0 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Between 5.1 mEq/L to 6.0 mEq/L signifies mild hyperkalemia, while potassium levels from 6.1 mEq/L to 7.0 mEq/L reflects moderate hyperkalemia. Over 7.0 mEq/L means severe hyperkalemia.
Know the daily potassium requirements. Individuals who are at high risk of contracting hyperkalemia should know the correct quantity of potassium they need to take per day. Generally, a daily diet containing 4,700 mg. of potassium is enough. However, people afflicted with chronic kidney disorders should consume less than 1,500 mg. of potassium in a day. Too much potassium can cause the kidneys not to function well especially in eliminating excess potassium in the urine.
Know the “leaching” process. Since nearly all foods have some potassium content, the key is to remove some of the potassium in vegetables before cooking. Wash, peel, and then slice the vegetables into pieces and then rinse thoroughly using warm water. For “leaching,” use a large volume of unsalted, warm water. Soak for two hours or overnight. Every three to four hours, change the water.
Before cooking, drain and rinse the vegetables for the last time using warm water again. Cook as desired using unsalted water. Thereafter, make sure to drain the cooking water.
Increase your calcium intake. Calcium interferes with the body’s absorption of potassium. Therefore, consuming foods rich in calcium such as milk, cheese, yogurt, milk, and green leafy vegetables like kale and collard greens can help reduce potassium levels in the blood. Also, eating a piece of garlic during breakfast and dinner is recommended.
Increase your water intake. Sufficient water helps in eliminating excess potassium in the body. Drink at least ten, eight-ounce glasses of water per day. However, for people with kidney problems, it is vital that they see their doctor first for appropriate advice. Excessive water consumption can possibly strain the kidneys which, in turn, can lead to other complications.
Know what to avoid. Limit the intake of foods that are rich in potassium like: potatoes, peas, bananas, papaya, avocado, yams, and lima beans. Also, avoid coffee, tea, cola, alcohol, and other related drinks.
Studying how to lower potassium levels in the blood is very important, especially for people suffering from Addison’s disease, diabetes, renal failure, or kidney infections. These diseases, when left unattended, are potential risk factors for developing elevated potassium levels. Also, individuals who have unusual levels of aldosterone, a hormone that regulates potassium, must be sure to regulate this hormone properly in order to lower their potassium levels.