Hyperkalemia: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Home Remedies

excess potassium

Excess Potassium Content in The Blood

This is a mineral that your body needs to function properly. It is an essential nerve, heart, and muscle mineral. Potassium helps control breathing and heartbeat and can be gotten through foods and supplements. The body gets as much potassium as required and eject the rest through the function of the kidney.

As much as potassium is essential to the body, it is also harmful when it becomes too much in the body. The adverse effects of too much potassium in the blood are equal to the adverse effect of low potassium in the body, so either way, the resultant effect is usually hazardous.

Hyperkalemia is a health condition whereby one is said to have a dangerously high amount of potassium in the blood. The kidney is the regulator of the potassium in the body. Most hyperkalemia cases are a result of malfunctioning kidneys because the kidney regulates and keeps a healthy balance of potassium in the blood by kicking out the excesses and retaining the appropriate amount of potassium needed by the body.

According to professional medical analysis, 3.6 and 5.2 is the normal range of potassium count. Not meeting or exceeding this range means there is danger. A high potassium level in the blood leads to hyperkalemia.

When the potassium level in one’s blood is above 5.5, then there is danger lurking around. The person is assumed to be suffering from critical hyperkalemia. Also, when the potassium level in the blood rises above 6, then the person can be said to have gotten to the life-threatening part of hyperkalemia. Whether mild, critical, or life-threatening, every form of hyperkalemia requires urgent medical attention.


Certain health conditions, as well as medications, are primary culprits of hyperkalemia. These causal factors include;

Health Issues

  • Kidney Failure

The kidney is known to be a blood sugar and blood potassium level regulator. It balances the amount of these compounds that get into the body and pushes out unwanted ones. When this organ-kidney becomes faulty, potassium begins to accumulate in the blood without proper regulation and balance, hence leading to hyperkalemia.

Other health problems that cause hyperkalemia are;

  • Dehydration
  • Addison disease
  • Untreated type 1 diabetes; low insulin can lead to potassium accumulation
  • Internal bleeding
  • Heart disease, heart failure, as well as heart failure medications can lead to hyperkalemia.


Some medications have been discovered to also have a hand in the boosting of a person’s blood potassium level above normal. These medications include;

  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Heparin (blood thinner)
  • Some antibiotics


Excessive or prolonged usage of potassium supplements can lead to excess potassium content in the blood. Also, consuming a diet that contains high potassium properties can lead to excess potassium in the blood.

Drug and Alcohol

beerHeavy drug use and excessive intake of alcohol can cause the breakdown of the muscle tissues.  This breakdown process produces a high level of potassium from the muscles that are being broken down into the blood.


Undergoing severe trauma can leak potassium from your muscle cells into the bloodstream. When accidents occur, and there are a lot of damaged muscle tissues, potassium also leaks into the blood as a result of the damage.


  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Numbness all over the body
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in the chest
  • Irregular or fast heartbeats
  • Stomach ache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Life-threatening hyperkalemia can come with symptoms like paralysis and heart failure, and if it is left without being treated, it can make the heart stop beating.


The diagnosis of hyperkalemia involves urine and blood testing. Your blood potassium level will show in these tests. Questions would be asked about your diet, new medication, and other lifestyle factors like alcohol and drug usage. All of this information would make diagnosis easier. In order to confirm it further, some ECG or EKG tests can be run to check the heart rhythm. Going for a regular check-up would help you prevent hyperkalemia risks if you are at the risk of developing it.

  • Foods High in Potassium
  • Banana
  • Potatoes
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Poultry
  • Nuts

These foods are nutritious to the health; however, taking them in high amounts could lead to hyperkalemia.

  • Foods Low in Potassium
  • Certain fruits and vegetables
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta

In order to control the potassium level in the blood after being diagnosed with high blood potassium, these foods can constitute a major part of your diet.


  • The best way to attack hyperkalemia is by getting rid of excess blood potassium. These are various avenues of achieving this, and they include;
  • Speaking to a Doctor is the first and best way to begin hyperkalemia treatment. This would help the doctor detect the illness on time and conclude on which treatment method would be best for treating your hyperkalemia.
  • Hemolysis

medical testIf your hyperkalemia is a result of heart failure, hemolysis is the best treatment method for helping you get rid of excess potassium. Hemolysis is the process whereby a machine is used to assist the kidney removes excess compounds from the body.

  • Medications

Some medications that can treat hyperkalemia include;

Calcium gluconate; helps reduce the adverse effect potassium would have on your health pending the time a better method of blood potassium regulation is devised.

Diuretics; these are drugs that induce urine. Frequent urination can also help you get rid of excess potassium. Some diuretics include;

Loop diuretics

Potassium-sparing diuretics

Thiazide diuretics

Each with its various functions and area of specialization.

Resin; oral intake of resin can also help get rid of potassium. When the resin is taken orally, potassium gets attached to it and is removed from the body during a bowel movement.

Treating Kidney Diseases

  • Avoiding or changing drugs that cause hyperkalemia
  • Avoiding a diet that is high in potassium until your blood potassium level drops to normal
  • Avoiding potassium supplements

Home Remedies

  • Talk to a Doctor When Necessary

If the level of your blood potassium is high, it is advisable to visit the hospital. However, if it is mild, you can just treat it at home but with a constant medical check-up to prevent it from dropping below normal. Treating mild hyperkalemia at home also means talking to your doctor about your method of treatment for professional medical advice.

  • Reduce Your Intake of Potassium

The best way to begin treatment of mild and severe hyperkalemia after speaking with your doctor is to reduce your intake of foods, fruits, and vegetables that are high in potassium. Foods high in potassium include; apricot, beef, cod, milk beans, and so on. Change your diet and speak to your doctor about it for more advice.

  • Be Careful with Salt Substitute

Most salt substitutes are high in potassium. Check labels of any salt substitute product you want to buy and avoid the ones that have potassium as an ingredient.

  • Avoid Preservatives and Additives

Preserved foods and foods that are high in additives also contain high potassium levels and can be dangerous to the health. These kinds of foods include; preserved baked foods and sports drinks.

  • Drink Water

Staying hydrated help get rid of excess potassium as dehydration worsens hyperkalemia. Drink lots of water.

  • Avoid Some Herbs

If you are a lover of herbs, hyperkalemia will place restrictions on the kinds of herbs you should use. There are a good number of herbs that should not be removed when you are diagnosed with hyperkalemia. Some of the herbs that you should avoid if you have hyperkalemia are; alfalfa, dandelion, and nettle. They can increase your blood potassium level, hence avoid them.

  • Avoid Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Take note of your servings.

Monitor the measurements of foods you take using teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring cups to measure your water and drinks intake.

  • Talk to your dietician about the number of fruits and vegetables you should take since they do not have any form of labels or list of things that they are made up of (ingredient).

In conclusion, hyperkalemia occurs majorly as a result of excessive intake of potassium agents like foods, drinks, and medications. Another common cause of hyperkalemia is kidney failure and the inability to regulate and control the blood potassium level. Diagnosis of hyperkalemia begins with the doctor getting required information about the patient’s diet, lifestyle, and medication, then tests are carried out to confirm the doctor’s speculations. Speaking with medical professionals about symptoms of hyperkalemia is the best first attack for every hyperkalemia case. Avoiding some diets, medications, and lifestyle can follow suit in the treatment and management of hyperkalemia.