WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Hyperkalemia (hi-per-KAH-le-me-ah) is a condition where the level of potassium in your blood is higher than normal. Potassium is an electrolyte (mineral) that is found in the body and keeps your body working properly. Potassium helps control how your muscles, heart, and digestive system work by moving into and out of cells. Most potassium in the body is found inside cells. Hyperkalemia happens when too much potassium is outside of the cell and stays in the blood. A diet high in potassium, such as bananas, salt substitutes, or protein calorie supplements may increase potassium levels. Kidney diseases, a high blood sugar, trauma or taking certain medicines may also cause hyperkalemia.
- Symptoms of hyperkalemia include abdominal (stomach) cramping, nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), or diarrhea (loose bowel movement). Your heart may beat faster, slower, or stronger than normal. You may also have muscle weakness, trouble breathing, twitching, or little or no urine. Blood potassium levels and an electrocardiogram (ECG) may be needed to diagnose hyperkalemia. Treatment is aimed at decreasing the potassium levels by medicines, decreasing potassium by exchanging potassium with sodium, or dialysis. With prompt treatment, such as medicine, you have a greater chance of having a full recovery.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
You may need to change the way or what you eat to control your blood levels of potassium. You may need to limit how much potassium you eat. Foods that are high in potassium include bananas, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, peaches, and potatoes. Juices that are high in potassium include orange juice, citrus juices, and tomato juice. Do not use salt substitutes. Ask your caregiver or dietitian to help you plan a diet.
For support and more information:
Having hyperkalemia may be hard for you and your family. Contact the following for more information:
- American Academy of Family Physicians
11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
Leawood , KS 66211-2680
Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
Web Address: http://www.aafp.org
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Building 31, room 9A04 Center Drive, MSC 2560
Bethesda , MD 208922560
Web Address: http://www.niddk.nih.gov
- National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd Street
New York , NY 10016
Phone: 1- 212 - 889-2210
Phone: 1- 800 - 622-9010
Web Address: http://www.kidney.org
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have numbness or pricking of your arms or legs.
- You are vomiting (throwing up) or have an upset stomach.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You feel very weak or very tired.
- You have any changes in your breathing, including difficulty breathing.
- You have an abnormal heartbeat (fast, slow, strong, weak, or irregular)
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.