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High Potassium

Kingwood Kidney Associates

Board Certified Internal Medicine & Nephrology located in Humble, TX

If you have kidney disease, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re at risk for high potassium, a serious and potentially fatal condition. The board-certified Nephrologist, Sowmya Puthalapattu, MD, at Kingwood Kidney Associates work closely with each patient, monitoring their blood potassium, and giving them the information and support they need to prevent the condition by following a low-potassium diet. To learn more about the risks of high potassium, call the office in Kingwood, Texas, or schedule an appointment online.

High Potassium Q & A

What do I need to know about potassium?

Potassium is a mineral that serves as an electrolyte in your body. In this role, it carries electrical charges that are essential to keep your nerves, muscles, and heart working.

Your body maintains tight control of the amount of potassium circulating in your bloodstream. If potassium levels go higher or lower than this strict range, you develop serious health problems. High potassium causes an irregular heartbeat and can lead to a heart attack. 

What causes high potassium?

The primary causes of high potassium, or hyperkalemia, are chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. Your kidneys are responsible for removing extra potassium from your body. They filter it out of your bloodstream and eliminate it through your urine.

When your kidneys are too damaged to do their job, extra potassium stays in your bloodstream, where it gradually builds to dangerous levels.   

Other causes of hyperkalemia include health conditions such as:

  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Severe bleeding

 

Your potassium can also get too high if you take certain medications or become dehydrated.

What symptoms develop if I have high potassium? 

In most cases, you won’t have any symptoms until your potassium levels become dangerously high. Hyperkalemia typically develops slowly, which also makes it hard to recognize symptoms. Over time, however, you may notice muscle weakness, tingling, or numbness. 

When high potassium develops suddenly, or your levels are very high, you experience:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • General weakness or fatigue

 

Severe hyperkalemia is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate emergency care. 

How can I prevent high potassium?

You can prevent high potassium by limiting the amount of potassium in your diet. In some cases, you may need potassium binder medication to help your body eliminate the excess potassium, but when you have kidney disease, you always need to follow a low-potassium diet.

Kingwood Kidney Associates works with each patient, giving them the information and support they need to successfully follow a low-potassium diet. For example, you learn about high- and low-potassium foods and dietary tips that help you stick with the plan. 

You don’t necessarily need to eliminate high-potassium foods like baked potatoes, bananas, milk, lentils, and chicken breast. But you will need to eat smaller portions and watch the amount of total potassium you consume during the day.

To learn more about high potassium and a kidney diet, call Kingwood Kidney Associates, or schedule an appointment online.