Home Hyperkalemia – Foods to avoid and management options
Hyperkalemia – Foods to avoid and management options
Hyperkalemia – Foods to avoid and management options

The nerves and muscle cells need potassium to function, and the mineral is also responsible for regulating nerves in the heart. However, when potassium levels in the blood exceed the normal range, i.e., 3.6–5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), it can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia. This can cause severe health complications, including irregular heartbeat and even heart attack. However, hyperkalemia can be managed through treatment and changes in meal plans.

Foods to avoid
A high-potassium meal regimen or using excessive potassium supplements can contribute to the development of hyperkalemia. Excessive amounts of this mineral can result in numbness, tingling sensations, and digestive problems. So, one should avoid potassium-rich fruits like honeydew melon, oranges, bananas, and cantaloupe. Additionally, people affected by the condition should also limit high-potassium foods like apricots, mangoes, avocados, kiwis, breakfast cereals (with dried fruit), salt substitutes, milk and dairy products, chickpeas, and lentils. One should ensure that their potassium intake is limited to a maximum of 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day. A doctor can help develop a manageable meal plan to keep the potassium levels in check.

Maintenance treatment options
Various treatment options are recommended for different stages of hyperkalemia. If the potassium levels are not severe but still need to be lowered, doctors may recommend sodium bicarbonate to temporarily shift potassium into body cells. Albuterol may be prescribed to raise blood insulin levels and move potassium into the cells. Another option is patiromer (Veltassa), which binds potassium in the intestine.

A healthcare expert may also recommend Lasix (furosemide) to reduce extra fluids in the body brought on by conditions like heart failure, kidney disease, and liver disease. This is a water pill that helps the body flush out excessive fluids and remove potassium through urine. Lokelma is another recommended treatment for high potassium levels. It binds the excess potassium and lowers its concentration to keep the levels in check. It is usually taken orally in the form of a solution prepared by mixing the powder with three tablespoons of water until the powder dissolves. Before using these options, one must also speak to a healthcare professional about the side effects and other complications.

Emergency treatment options
In some cases, when the blood has too much potassium, hyperkalemia may develop immediately due to existing ongoing health disorders. Here, the patient may need emergency treatment. These include options like inhaled albuterol, IV sodium bicarbonate, IV calcium, and IV insulin and glucose. The treatment works quickly by shifting the chemical out of the blood and into cells. Some patients may also require dialysis, which utilizes a special machine to filter high amounts of potassium from the blood.


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