How to Treat High Potassium Levels

Freshly baked bread
Whole-grain bread spills over onto a farm table. (Image: klenova/iStock/Getty Images)

Potassium is vital to a number of body functions, including digestion, metabolism and regulating muscle tissue. However, is it possible for a person to experience hyperkalemia, a condition where a person experiences too-high potassium levels in her blood. While some moderately high potassium levels may be the direct result of a diet high in potassium, hyperkalemia can indicate a more severe condition, such as a kidney disorder. For this reason, it's important to take action to reduce a person's potassium levels in order to restore balance to the body.

Step 1

Reduce the amount of high-potassium foods in your diet. While potassium is found at least in trace elements in most foods, avoid foods that contain 250 mg or more. Examples include whole-grain breads, peanut butter, nuts, figs, chocolate, apricots, avocado, bananas, pears, raisins, baked beans, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, squash, tomato sauce, milk, clams, scallops, salmon, ground beef, pinto beans, navy beans and salt substitutes.

Step 2

Replace high-potassium foods with low-potassium foods, such as white-flour foods, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapefruits, raspberries, asparagus, cabbage, cucumber, onions, cucumber, green peas, green peppers, chicken, turkey, tuna, eggs, shrimp, cheddar or Swiss cheese.

Step 3

Reduce the potassium content of your favorite foods by leaching, a process that involves soaking high-potassium vegetables in water for two hours or more. Drain the water, then cook the vegetables.

Step 4

Take a diuretic medication, which is designed to reduce potassium levels in the body. These medicines must be prescribed by a physician and is often recommended for a person that is experiencing chronic kidney failure.

Step 5

Undergo other treatments to reduce the amount of potassium in the body and improve kidney function. Because the kidneys are responsible for filtering potassium in the body, treatments such as dialysis aim to act in the absence of good kidney function. Other treatments, such as intravenous calcium, glucose or insulin reduce potassium levels in the body.

Tip

Closely monitor any patient undergoing treatment for high potassium levels for any symptoms related to cardiac arrest, as hyperkalemia is linked with irregular heartbeat and heart damage.

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