Common Causes and Treatments for Hyperkalemia

Hyperkalemia is a disorder characterized by unusually elevated levels of potassium in a persons blood. Normal potassium level in our blood ranges between 3.5-5 miliequivalents per liter. When the potassium level rises about this level, a person is said to be suffering from hyperkalemia. The condition is quite common and is diagnosed in more than 8 percent hospitalized patients in United States alone.

Causes of Hyperkalemia

Our kidneys are designed to remove the extra potassium from our body. High level of potassium usually occurs when our kidneys fail to work properly. When our kidneys do not work properly, taking additional potassium in the form of salt substitutes of potassium supplements can cause immense problems.

Certain medications also increase the level of potassium in our blood. These medications include blood pressure pills and water pills.

Whenever potassium in released for our body cells, it can get build up inside the bloodstream. The potassium gets released from the cells due to the process of acidosis.

Treatment for Hyperkalemia

If you have extremely high levels of potassium in your bloodstream, you may require emergency treatment. In cases of hyperkalemia, emergency treatments include:

Injection of calcium into the veins through IV to protect the heart and muscles from the harmful effects of excessively high potassium levels.
Injection of insulin and glucose into the veins to reduce potassium levels at least for enough time to treat the problem
Dialysis of kidneys in case they are not working properly
Medications to remove potassium from intestines before they get a chance to be absorbed
Diuretics (water pills) for reduce potassium
Sodium bicarbonate in case the problem is caused due to acidosis.

Certain changes in the diet can also prevent as well as treat hyperkalemia. Some good options include:

Limit the intake of avocados, asparagus, tomatoes, pumpkin, winter squash and cooked spinach.
Limit the intake of oranges, kiwis, nectarines, dried fruits, raisins, honeydew, cantaloupe, prunes, nectarines and bananas.
Avoid salt substitutes completely

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