What Is Hyperkalemia?
Our body requires potassium, which is an essential mineral and electrolyte in order to function efficiently. This mineral is especially important for the proper functioning of the muscles including the heart and also the nerves.
Although potassium is very important for health, too much of the nutrient is also not a good thing. The kidneys usually maintain a healthy balance of potassium in our body by flushing out the excess salt from the body. However, sometimes the potassium level in the body can become too high and this condition is known as hyperkalemia.
Usually, the normal potassium rage in the body for healthy functioning is between 3.6 to 5.2 mmol/L. Any level above 5.6 mmol/L is not healthy and above 5.2 mmol/L, the condition can be life-threatening.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperkalemia?
When the potassium levels in the body are extremely high, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Weakness or tiredness
- A tingling sensation or numbness
- Breathing trouble, pain in the chest
- Nausea or vomiting
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
Too much of potassium in the blood can also change the heart rhythms adversely. In very severe cases, high potassium level in the blood can cause heart failure or paralysis and if the condition is not treated, then it can lead to stopping of the heart.
What Are The Causes Of Hyperkalemia?
The causes of hyperkalemia are:
- Kidney failure (does not remove extra potassium from the body and leads to potassium build-up).
- Type-1 diabetes, dehydration.
- Internal bleeding, Addison’s disease.
- Antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, Azole antifungal medication, Beta-blockers
- Angiotensin receptor blockers (blood pressure medication)
- ACE inhibitors (to control blood pressure), Blood thinners (Heparin)
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications)
- Potassium supplements, diuretics that spare potassium
- Herbal supplements (lily of the valley, milkweed, Hawthorn berries, Siberian ginseng, etc.)
- Heavy drug and alcohol abuse (causes muscle breakdown and releases excess potassium into the bloodstream)
- Trauma (burns or injuries)
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Hyperkalemia?
- Reduce your intake of potassium to around 2000mg-3000mg in a day.
- Buy a salt substitute and avoid the ones that have any potassium chloride.
- Drink plenty of water, as dehydration can make the condition of hyperkalemia worse.
- Follow any treatment plan prescribed for kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease properly, as this can help to keep your potassium levels in check.
- It is a good idea to be physically active and follow a regular exercise routine, as sweating can help to remove the excess potassium and toxins from the body.
- Soak fresh fruits in water before eating them, as this helps to reduce the amount of potassium in them.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Hyperkalemia?
- Avoid smoking and consuming alcohol as both these worsen the condition of hyperkalemia.
- Avoid any medications that increase the potassium levels in the body (speak to your doctor about this before altering any medication).
- Avoid herbs like nettle, alfalfa, dandelion, etc. as they increase the potassium levels and can worsen the condition of hyperkalemia.
What Are The Best Foods For Hyperkalemia?
- Eat fruits and vegetables that are low in potassium such as plums, grapes, pears, melons, strawberries, tangerines, onions, cabbage, carrots, etc.
- Have foods like white rice, white pasta, alfalfa sprouts, etc. as they are low in potassium.
- Eating foods that are very high in calcium such as leafy green vegetables, amaranth, etc. helps to reduce potassium in the body.
- Including plenty of soy-based foods like tofu, and soya beans etc. can help to reduce the potassium levels in the blood.
- Eat lean meats like turkey, chicken, pork, etc. as they have a lower potassium content and limit your servings.
What Are The Worst Foods For Hyperkalemia?
- Avoid foods that are very high in potassium such as potatoes, beans, avocados, tomatoes, pumpkin, nuts, raisins, bananas, prunes, spinach, cauliflower, beef, cod, etc.
- Foods like tuna, salmon, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc. are very high in potassium and must be avoided for hyperkalemia.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, sports drinks, etc. as they increase the potassium levels in the blood and make the condition of hyperkalemia worse.
- Avoid foods with additives and commercially produced baked goods as they are usually very high in potassium and can aggravate the condition of hyperkalemia.
- Avoid drinking milk and other dairy products as they are very high in potassium and can worsen the condition of hyperkalemia.
- Many vegetable and fruit juices such as orange juice, carrot juice, etc. are very high in potassium and you must avoid them.
- Avoid brown rice, brown pasta and other whole grains such as bran as they have a very high potassium content.
What Are The Medicines For Hyperkalemia?
What Are The Tips To Manage Hyperkalemia?
- It is a good idea to start light yoga exercises or get an exercise routine to keep yourself physically active. It is shown that 30 minutes of exercise can help to reduce the potassium levels in the body.
- Kidney failure can lead to hyperkalemia. A good massage or acupuncture helps to stimulate the kidney function and regulate potassium levels.
- Some home remedies for hyperkalemia are:
- Garlic is known to be extremely beneficial for hyperkalemia, so it is a good idea to include plenty of garlic in your diet.
- When hyperkalemia occurs due to high acidity in the blood, this condition is called acidosis. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate can be used as a remedy for hyperkalemia due to acidosis.
- Having the starchy water that is left behind after cooking rice and draining it is good for the condition of hyperkalemia.
- Cranberry can help to reduce potassium levels and help the condition of hyperkalemia by cleansing the kidney.
- Drinking marshmallow tea can help to reduce the symptoms of hyperkalemia by regulating potassium levels in the body and cleansing the kidney.