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Hyperkalemia Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Hyperkalemia is a condition that indicates the presence of excess levels of potassium in the bloodstream. Hyperkalemia sufferers often have no symptoms, but some people experience irregular heartbeats, pulse slow and weak, fatigue, weakness, difficulty breathing, and nausea. Hyperkalemia requiring intensive care in hospital, with close supervision and treatment of the same with kidney disease. Hyperkalemia treatments including dialysis; medicines diuretics; Intravenous calcium; glucose and insulin; as well as restrictions on the amount of intake of potassium in the diet.

According to MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, hyperkalemia occurs when certain disorders-such as acute or chronic renal failure, glomerulonephritis or obstructive uropathy-lowering kidney's ability to remove potassium from the body. Hyperkalemia can occur when cells release excess potassium into liquid that is outside the cell, as a result of tissue injury-like burns, bleeding gastrointetinal, surgery, traumatic injury, tumor or rhabdomyolysis of drugs, alcohol or infection.


Those with poor kidney function had a higher risk for experiencing hyperkalemia. It should be noted, some treatments, such as potassium-sparing diuretics and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, can inhibit the body's ability to eliminate potassium. Patients with kidney failure, especially for those who perform the treatment by means of dialysis, should avoid foods high in potassium. These foods include meat and fish; vegetables such as broccoli, peas, tomatoes, and potatoes; and fruits, such as kiwi, plums, apricots, and cantaloupe.

The body needs potassium to make the synthesis of protein, metabolize carbohydrates, muscle development, and other important functions of electrical and cellular. However, you should be careful to consume potassium. If excessive, potassium will give serious health consequences.

Hyperkalemia causes

Potassium is an important component of all body cells. Almost 2% of the total potassium in our bodies found in the blood. Serious injuries, severe burns, surgery, alcoholism, drug abuse, and the destruction of tumor cells are some of the factors that can damage cells and tissues to release high amounts of potassium in the blood.
  1. One of the main hyperkalemia causes is renal dysfunction. This is because the potassium in the body is excreted through the kidneys. Every time there is a problem in the kidneys too often will result in an increase in the number of high potassium levels in the body.
  2. Potassium supplements or medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs can also cause hyperkalemia.
  3. The adrenal glands are located next to the kidneys produce hormones. One of these hormone called aldosterone. This hormone makes the kidneys to hold sodium and excrete potassium in the urine. Disorder or disease such as Addison's disease can also cause adrenal gland disorders.
  4. Diabetes is also known to be the cause of hyperkalemia. Diabetics often require insulin to maintain glucose levels. When there is a shortage of insulin in the body, fat cells in the body is damaged. This can cause the liquid and potassium in these cells to migrate into the bloodstream.

Hyperkalemia symptoms

Hiperkelamia symptoms generally tend to be asymptomatic so difficult to detect early, unless the increase of potassium occurs in a short time. The level of potassium in the blood, which is slightly higher than normal levels usually do not have any symptoms. Even when the potassium in the blood increases gradually, the symptoms experienced hyperkalemia is not so clear. In other cases, the most common symptoms are slow heartbeat and weak pulse. Both of these symptoms accompanied by extreme fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, weakness in the muscles that often make it difficult to move the limbs. If the growing conditions become more severe, the heart will stop beating entirely. In some rare cases, hyperkalemia is a genetic disorder, the level of potassium in the blood suddenly increases and causes muscle paralysis

Some Hiperkelamia symptoms that may be seen or felt, such as:
  • Nausea
  • Malaise
  • Weakness of Muscles
  • Palpitations
  • mild hyperventilation
  • irregular heartbeat
  • Breathing problems
  • tingling sensation
  • Paralysis

Hyperkalemia treatment

Treatment should be done if potassium rises above 5 mEq / L in someone with poor kidney function or above 6 mEq / L in someone with normal kidney function. Potassium can be removed from the body through the digestive tract or kidneys or by dialysis. Potassium can be removed by inducing diarrhea and by swallowing a preparation containing resin sucker potassium. These resins are not absorbed in the digestive tract, so the potassium out of the body through feces.

When kidney function well, given diuretic drugs to increase spending potassium. If needed immediate treatment, can be given intravenous solution containing calcium, glucose or insulin. Calcium helps protect the heart from the effects of high concentrations of potassium, although this effect only lasts a few minutes.

Glucose and insulin moves potassium from the blood into cells, thus lowering the blood potassium concentration. If this treatment fails or in case of kidney failure, dialysis may be necessary.

In the case of chronic hyperkalemia will require intravenous dose of insulin, glucose and calcium. As this can help in the absorption of potassium from the blood. It is also in turn will protect the heart and other muscles that could otherwise damaged by hiperkelamia. If this condition arises due to renal impairment, the affected person may need dialysis to treat simultaneously. Hyperkalemia Patients should augment drinking water, so the excess mineral potassium can be removed from the body through urine or sweat.

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