Hyperkalemia symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness and tingling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
The doctor will check for any physical manifestations of hyperkalemia. They may also ask about the patient’s medical history and lifestyle practices. Tests needed for the diagnosis of hyperkalemia include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – Doctors may perform an ECG to confirm any abnormalities in the heartbeat, which is usually a symptom of hyperkalemia.
- Blood tests – A blood test, specifically a serum potassium test, will indicate if there are abnormal levels of potassium in the blood.
- Urine test – The urine test will check for any abnormalities in the kidney’s function. Poor kidney function may result in hyperkalemia.
The goal of hyperkalemia treatment is to lower potassium levels in the blood. Because hyperkalemia is caused by underlying health conditions, treating these conditions may be key to lowering potassium levels.
Depending on the cause of the increased level of potassium, treatment may include:
- Dietary Changes – Removing some of the food and supplements that have high potassium content can improve symptoms. However, people must not entirely eliminate potassium from their diet, as potassium is still essential to the body.
- IV therapy – If potassium levels are too high, an IV infusion with calcium is administered to protect the heart.
- Albuterol – Albuterol is an asthma medication that can be inhaled to lower potassium levels.
- Water pills – Water pills, also known as diuretics, promote urination to eliminate the excess potassium through urine.
- Potassium binders – Patients may take potassium binders in powdered form together with food. The powder binds with excess potassium and leaves the system through the stool.
- Dialysis – Kidney failure is often the cause of hyperkalemia. Dialysis manages kidney failure, allowing the kidneys to process the excess potassium.
- Medication management – Some medications, especially blood pressure medicine, can raise potassium levels. Doctors may ask the patient to discontinue the use of those medications, lessen the dosage, or recommend alternatives.
Hyperkalemia is a condition wherein potassium levels in the blood are too high. This causes problems in different parts of the body.