Are you worried about your Hyperkalemia?
It is common for high potassium levels to occur if your kidneys are not working as they should. The primary purpose of the kidney is to cleanse the blood of toxins by producing urine to help the toxins pass harmlessly out of the body, but they are also responsible for maintaining healthy levels of electrolytes like potassium. Unfortunately, sometimes the kidneys may stop working correctly causing dangerously high levels of toxins or excess fluid to build up in the system, when this happens you may experience the symptoms of kidney failure such as high blood pressure levels, extreme fatigue and lethargy, headaches, fever, and chills, swelling of your facial features, fluid retention, feeling or being sick with a possible loss of appetite and localised lower back pain. If your kidneys are functioning correctly the high potassium levels could also be caused by other conditions such as Addison’s disease, characterised by adrenal insufficiency, an inability to produce certain hormones, or type 1 diabetes, a condition that causes the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to rise too high due to an inability to effectively produce the correct level of insulin hormone.
High levels of potassium registered in a blood sample does not always indicate a serious undiagnosed underlying condition but can sometimes be explained by other means. When your blood sample is drawn, the process may cause blood cells to rupture, leaking potassium into the blood sample and rendering the result unreliable. If your doctor suspects that this is the case, they may order a repeat blood test to make sure. It is also possible for dehydration to cause elevated potassium levels in the blood, so it is important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle, drinking plenty of fluids to maintain healthy electrolyte levels. If you are taking supplements that contain potassium it is important to always read the labels and ensure that you do not take an excessive amount that could cause your levels to climb too high.
High potassium is usually discovered when your doctor orders blood test results after you have reported symptoms that could indicate an electrolyte imbalance. Treatment will depend heavily on the underlying cause of the potassium spike, if you have already been diagnosed with a condition that affects electrolyte levels or requires regularly taking medication that could affect the potassium levels in your system, it may be possible to change to a more suitable medication. However, if you are experiencing the symptoms listed below then you may be suffering acutely high levels of potassium and should seek immediate medical advice.
- If you are experiencing muscle fatigue
- If you experience significant weakness
- Paralysis, an inability to move
- Arrhythmias, abnormal heart rhythms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Acute kidney failure
- Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency)
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Beta blockers
- Chronic kidney disease
- Destruction of red blood cells due to severe injury or burns
- Excessive use of potassium supplements
- Type 1 diabetes