What Causes Potassium To Be High In The Body?

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Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the body. It helps to regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve impulses. However, having too much potassium in the body can be dangerous and lead to serious health problems. In this article, we will discuss the causes of high potassium levels in the body and what you can do to prevent it.

What is High Potassium?

High potassium, also known as hyperkalemia, occurs when there is too much potassium in the blood. The normal range for potassium levels is between 3.5 to 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). However, if the levels go above 5.0 mmol/L, it is considered high.

Causes of High Potassium

There are several reasons why someone may have high potassium levels in their body. Some of the common causes include:

1. Kidney Disease: The kidneys are responsible for removing excess potassium from the body. However, if they are not functioning properly, potassium can build up in the blood.

2. Medications: Certain medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and potassium-sparing diuretics can cause high potassium levels.

3. Dehydration: When the body is dehydrated, the concentration of potassium in the blood increases, which can lead to high potassium levels.

4. Adrenal Insufficiency: This occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones, including aldosterone, which regulates potassium levels in the body.

5. Acidosis: This condition occurs when there is too much acid in the body, which can cause potassium to move from the cells into the bloodstream.

Symptoms of High Potassium

High potassium levels may not cause any symptoms in the early stages. However, as the levels increase, symptoms may include:

  • Muscle weakness or paralysis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Difficulty breathing

Prevention and Treatment

If you are at risk for high potassium levels, it is important to monitor your potassium intake and have regular blood tests to check your levels. To prevent high potassium, you can:

  • Eat a low-potassium diet
  • Avoid potassium supplements and salt substitutes
  • Stay hydrated
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take medications as prescribed by your doctor

If you have high potassium levels, your doctor may recommend the following treatments:

  • Stopping medications that may be causing high potassium
  • Dialysis to remove excess potassium from the blood
  • Insulin therapy to move potassium from the blood into the cells
  • Calcium gluconate to protect the heart from the effects of high potassium


In conclusion, high potassium levels can be dangerous and lead to serious health problems. It is important to understand the causes of high potassium and how to prevent it. If you suspect that you have high potassium levels, speak to your doctor immediately.