Treatment Of Hyperkalemia

From Diagnosis to Treatment of Hyperkalemia

If you are interested in learning about the treatment of hyperkalemia, then you’ve probably been recently diagnosed or know of someone who has been. The term hyperkalemia means high potassium. The human body needs a certain amount of potassium in order to maintain good muscle health, among other things. However, it can be dangerous and even fatal to have too much potassium in the body. Although this condition is rarely talked about in the media today, statistics show that at least eight percent of hospitalized US citizens have hyperkalemia. Let’s take a look at the symptoms that might crop up with this disorder…

 

Symptoms

Most people who are diagnosed with hyperkalemia have mild hyperkalemia, which does not always yield obvious symptoms. Some of the common symptoms are nausea, muscle weakness, general fatigue, and tingling of the skin. As you have probably noticed, these symptoms are also associated with hundreds of other common conditions, which makes high potassium levels a little more difficult to diagnose. Other symptoms can crop up with serious cases of this condition, such as a slow heartbeat and low blood pressure. If a severe case of hyperkalemia is left undiagnosed or untreated, it is possible for one’s heartbeat to cease altogether. Unfortunately, the symptoms are usually so minor—or fail to appear at all—that most people are not ware that something is wrong until their potassium levels have raised far too high.

Causes

There are many conditions which can lead to too much potassium being retained in the body, however there are a few which are more common. A dysfunctional kidney(s) is one of the common causes behind hyperkalemia. Of course “dysfunction” can mean numerous different issues, but the fact of the matter is that the kidneys are directly responsible for things from the blood stream and expelling them from the body. If the kidneys are not working properly, then they likely are not removing the necessary amount of potassium from the body, thus resulting in an overabundance of this mineral. Medications and supplements can also be responsible for elevated potassium levels. The most common forms are salt substitutes, potassium supplements, and medications which restrain the body from urinating. In most instances, our kidneys can bump up their urine production (which is how extra potassium is expelled from the body) in the event that too much potassium is taken into the body. However, this natural method of elimination can be compromised if one is taking a medication which acts as an anti-diuretic.

 

One can also develop hyperkalemia after a recent injury. When our cells have been badly damaged, they release potassium into the bloodstream. A severe burn, surgery, and even tumors can cause the affected cells to release so much potassium that the body is unable of handling the overflow quick enough.

Diagnosis

The best way for a doctor to make a diagnosis of hyperkalemia is to conduct a blood test. The blood sample goes off to the lab for examination where, if the patient does indeed have hyperkalemia, the potassium content of the blood will be higher than normal, which is between 3.5 and 5.0 mEq/L.

Treatment of Hyperkalemia

The treatment of hyperkalemia really depends on how severe the patient’s condition is. In mild cases, one may simply have to adhere to a low-potassium diet. If a medication or supplement is suspected, then one may be asked to discontinue its use or the dosage may be lowered. Taking diuretics on a regular basis is another reliable form of treatment if infrequent urination is the issue. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to administer insulin and glucose via IV. Dialysis may also be used if the other treatments prove to be ineffective.