Ways & How

How to Treat High Potassium

How to Treat High Potassium

Potassium is an important element responsible in maintaining fluid balances in the body. It helps in the normal functioning of the heart, nerves, and muscles. A potassium deficiency is not good because it can cause hypokalemia. On the other hand, an elevated level of potassium is not also good because it can lead to a disease called hyperkalemia which can develop into arrhythmia and other heart-related disorders. In other words, it is essential to keep your potassium level just within the normal range, which should be anywhere between 3.5 to 5.0 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Let us study a few tips on how to treat high potassium levels. Potassium overdose is possible if you eat too much salty foods that cause nausea, vomiting, and heart attack. You can successfully avoid these serious complications by considering the important factors below in treating high potassium levels:

  1. Consult a doctor. Self-diagnosis is dangerous. Medical assessment by your doctor is necessary in order to determine whether your elevated potassium level is mild, moderate, or severe. Since hyperkalemia does not present revealing symptoms at an early stage, you have to be cautious as much as possible. It is recommended that you see your doctor for proper diagnosis and early detection.

    Typically, you will undergo blood testing and a heart monitoring exam called an electrocardiogram (ECG). After the test, the doctor can determine the underlying causes of your elevated potassium. According to Dr. Jennifer Shu at the Childrenís Medical Group, hyperkalemia can be a result of a number of medical conditions like: kidney failure, renal failure, glomerulonephritis, or lupus.

  2. Mildly elevated potassium (5.1 to 6.0 mEq/L). You can take 40-80 mg. intravenously of Furosemide. However, intravenous diuretics may be substituted by oral Furosemide. Also, 15-3 g. of Kayexalate may be taken orally. Just note that this may not be administered routinely since it can cause several discomforts like diarrhea and cramping. For outpatients, powdered Kayexalate may be given.

  3. Moderately elevated potassium (6.1 to 7.0 mEq/L). Generally, the appropriate treatment may be given with or without an ECG. The medications may include glucose plus insulin, 50 mEq intravenous of sodium bicarbonate (except for patients that are without metabolic acidosis), 10-20 mg. of nebulized Albuterol (except for patients suffering from coronary artery disease or tachycardia), Furosemide, or Kayexalate.

  4. Severely elevated potassium (over 7.0 mEq/L). Extreme potassium levels should be treated aggressively, especially if there are no changes in the ECG. The medications may include 5-10 ml. of calcium chloride, 50 mEq intravenously of sodium bicarbonate, glucose plus insulin, 10-20 mg. of nebulized Albuterol,†40-80 mg. intravenously of Furosemide, or 15-50 g. of Kayexalate.

  5. Undergo dialysis treatment. This is highly recommended for patients whose potassium level is severely high. Serious cases of hyperkalemia which are due to end-stage renal disease have to be dialyzed, and the reversibility of the condition is largely dependent on the complications of the disorder. Sometimes mild and moderate cases of elevated potassium are also treated with dialysis.

  6. Limit intake of potassium-rich foods. Almost all foods have some potassium content, but there are foods which you have to limit your intake of so as not to aggravate the effects of a high potassium level. These are: avocados, paprika, red chili powder, dried apricots, prunes, raisins, Zante currants, pistachios, seeds from squash, sunflower, flax and pumpkin, fish (salmon, halibut, tuna, and pompano), beans and dates.

  7. Reduce salt substitutes. The Cleveland Clinic explained that salt substitutes are potentially dangerous, especially if you have a high potassium level. The salt substitute replaces sodium chloride with another element called potassium chloride which, in turn, only increases potassium levels.

  8. Exercise and drink plenty of water. Keeping yourself hydrated is very important since dehydration can elevate your potassium levels. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, exercising at least 30 minutes daily can greatly lower your potassium levels.

While working on the tips of how to treat high potassium levels, donít overdo it. Because once you lack potassium in your bodily fluids, you become susceptible to contracting hypokalemia usually resulting from diarrhea, vomiting, or increased diuresis. What is important is that you maintain a normal potassium level in your body to stay healthy.

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