What Makes Your Potassium High?

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Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. However, having too much potassium in your blood can lead to serious health issues. In this article, we’ll explore what causes high potassium levels and how to manage them.

What is High Potassium?

High potassium, also known as hyperkalemia, occurs when the potassium levels in your blood are too high. Normal potassium levels range from 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). When the potassium levels exceed 5.2 mmol/L, it is considered high.

Causes of High Potassium

There are various reasons why your potassium levels may be high. Some of the common causes include:

1. Kidney Disease

The kidneys are responsible for filtering excess potassium out of the body. When the kidneys are not functioning correctly, potassium can build up in the bloodstream, leading to high potassium levels.

2. Certain Medications

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

3. Dehydration

Dehydration can lead to high potassium levels as the concentration of potassium in the blood increases.

4. Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is a hormonal disorder that affects the adrenal glands. It can cause high potassium levels due to decreased production of aldosterone, a hormone responsible for regulating potassium levels.

5. Hemolysis

Hemolysis is the breakdown of red blood cells, which can cause a release of potassium into the bloodstream, leading to high potassium levels.

Symptoms of High Potassium

Some of the common symptoms of high potassium levels include: – Nausea – Muscle weakness – Tingling or numbness – Irregular heartbeat – Difficulty breathing – Fatigue

How to Manage High Potassium

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

1. Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medications to lower your potassium levels, such as sodium polystyrene sulfonate or loop diuretics.

2. Dietary Changes

Your doctor may recommend reducing your intake of high-potassium foods, such as bananas, oranges, tomatoes, and potatoes.

3. Dialysis

If your high potassium levels are severe, your doctor may recommend dialysis, a medical treatment that uses a machine to filter excess potassium out of your blood.


High potassium levels can be a serious health issue. It’s essential to understand the causes and symptoms of high potassium levels and how to manage them. If you suspect you have high potassium levels, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.