Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in ensuring the health of the body’s cells, tissues and organs. Maintaining the right amount of potassium in your body is a delicate balancing act. This responsibility lies primarily with your kidneys, as the kidneys work to reconcile potassium intake and excretion to help regulate the amount of potassium in your body. This important mineral is in the blood, and through the series “Reassure yourself”, we learn about the symptoms that, if they appear, you should conduct a blood potassium analysis, according to the website reversehealth.
What is high blood potassium?
Hyperkalemia is a medical condition in which the level of potassium in the blood is higher than normal. Hyperkalemia is a common cause of life-threatening heart rhythm changes, or arrhythmias.
It can lead to an emergency condition called ventricular fibrillation, which causes the lower parts of your heart to flutter rapidly instead of pumping blood.
If left untreated, having too much potassium in your blood can cause your heart to stop beating and lead to death.
Your nephrologist monitors your potassium level with a blood test.
The normal level of potassium is 3.6 to 5.2 mmol per liter (mmol/L), and a potassium level in the blood above 7.0 mmol/L requires immediate treatment.
Symptoms of hyperkalemia
Diagnosing hyperkalemia can be difficult, and symptoms may be mild. If you notice any of the following symptoms and suspect that your potassium level may be high, contact your doctor immediately:
Slow or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
Vomiting and nausea
What is hypokalemia?
Hypokalemia occurs when the body loses too much potassium in the urine or intestines and is rarely due to a deficiency in the diet. Hypokalemia, like hyperkalemia, can be life-threatening and should always be treated by a nephrologist.
What are the symptoms of hypokalemia?
Every cell in every system and organ in your body needs the right amount of potassium to function, and persistently low levels can lead to:
– general fatigue
– high blood pressure
Muscle aches and spasms
Tingling and numbness in the extremities
Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
Feeling faint or dizzy
Constipation, flatulence, abdominal cramps