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Why Is High Potassium Bad For Kidneys

Limit Shellfish And Meat

Hyperkalemia: High Potassium – Your Kidneys and Your Health

Research has found that a toxin called domoic acid in shellfish and some fish that eat algae can harm kidneys in mice. People are not mice. But, the really troubling finding was that very tiny levels of the toxin could harm kidneys. Shellfish also have high levels of purines, which can be a problem if you have gout. So, it may be wise to cut back on shellfish if you eat it a lot.

How Is It Diagnosed

It can be difficult to diagnose hyperkalemia. Often there are no symptoms. When there are, symptoms may include nausea a slow, weak or irregular pulse irritability, paraesthesia , muscle weakness, diarrhea, abdominal cramping or sudden collapse if the heartbeat slows or stops.

In many cases, hyperkalemia diagnosis must rely on clinical information such as a history of kidney failure or the use of medicines known to cause hyperkalemia.

Laboratory data and electrocardiographic changes can also be used along with clinical information to reach a diagnosis. For most people, their potassium level should be between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter . Hyperkalemia is a potassium level of greater than 5.5. Patients with hyperkalemia may have a normal electrocardiogram or only subtle changes.

Eating For High Potassium

If you learn that you have high potassium, your doctor might suggest that you change your diet to take in less potassium.

Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how much potassium you should have and how you can control how much potassium you eat. Your dietitian can recommend foods that are low in potassium that you can eat instead of foods that are high in potassium.

Follow these tips to keep your potassium at the right level:

  • Avoid salt substitutes because they are usually high in potassium.
  • Do not forget about drinks. Many fruit juices, like orange and tomato, have high potassium. Potassium can also be found in other drinks including coconut water.
  • Pay attention to serving sizes. Use measuring cups and measuring spoons to make sure you know how many servings you are eating or drinking. Remember that if you eat two servings of a food with potassium, you are eating twice as much potassium!

To manage your potassium intake, you need to know how much potassium is in your food and drinks.

Plan ahead if you know you will be eating a meal that is high in potassium. For example, if you are going out for dinner and you know your meal will be higher in potassium, or you know that it will be hard to measure how much potassium is in your meal, plan to eat meals that are low in potassium for breakfast and lunch.

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How Can Kidney Disease Affect My Other Nutritional Needs

If you have kidney disease, meeting your nutritional needs may be easier than you think. The trick is getting the hang of what you can eat and what you should reduce or remove from your diet.

Eating smaller portions of protein, such as chicken and beef, is important. A protein-rich diet can cause your kidneys to work too hard. Reducing your protein intake by practicing portion control may help.

Its important to note that protein restriction depends on your level of kidney disease. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out how much protein you should be consuming each day.

Sodium may increase thirst and lead to drinking too many fluids, or cause bodily swelling, both of which are bad for your kidneys. Sodium is a hidden ingredient in many packaged foods, so make sure to read the labels.

Instead of reaching for the salt to season your dish, opt for herbs and other seasonings that dont include sodium or potassium.

Youll also likely need to take a phosphate binder with your meals. This can prevent your phosphorus levels from getting too high. If these levels get too high, it can cause an inverse drop in calcium, leading to weak bones.

You may also consider limiting your cholesterol and total fat intake. When your kidneys dont filter effectively, eating foods heavy in these components is harder on your body. Becoming overweight due to a poor diet can also put added stress on your kidneys.

How To Limit Your Sodium Intake

The Role of Sodium, Potassium, Protein, and Phosphorus for CKD

The recommended sodium consumption for a healthy adult is no more than 2300 mg per day which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt. People with CKD or high blood pressure are recommended to limit their sodium intake ranging from 750 mg – 2000 mg per day. Your exact limit should be advised by your primary healthcare provider.

Sodium is virtually found in almost all food including fruits and vegetables. Lessening your sodium intake doesnt mean eating bland food. You can still enjoy the flavor in a low sodium diet using herbs and spices such as cumin, thyme, paprika, cinnamon, or cardamom. There are, of course, a number of other herbs and spices that might just entice you to try them.

Reading the food label can also help you reduce your sodium intake. Consider the serving size and the milligrams of sodium per serving when reading the food label. Compare and differentiate the sodium content of similar brands before choosing a product. Avoiding the foods on the list, below, could further help you manage your sodium intake and stay within your recommended limit:

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How Do I Know If I Have High Potassium

A simple blood test can find the level of potassium in your blood. If you are at risk, be sure you ask your healthcare provider about a blood test for potassium.

Many people with high potassium have few, if any, symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they are usually mild and non-specific. You may feel some muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, nausea, or other unusual feelings. High potassium usually develops slowly over many weeks or months, and is most often mild. It can recur. For most people, the level of potassium in your blood should be between 3.5 and 5.0, depending on the laboratory that is used.

If high potassium happens suddenly and you have very high levels, you may feel heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or vomiting. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical care. If you have these symptoms, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

Food Sources Of Potassium

Potassium is found in a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, seafood and legumes. Based on usual serving sizes, baked potatoes , canned prune juice, canned carrot juice, passionfruit juice, canned tomato paste, cooked beet greens, cooked adzuki beans, canned white beans, plain nonfat yogurt and tomato puree are the ten highest food sources of potassium.¹ Table 2 highlights commonly consumed foods and their potassium content, based on standard portions.

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How Much Potassium Is Safe

Its recommended that healthy men and women over the age of 19 consume at least 3,400 mg and 2,600 mg of potassium per day, respectively.

However, people with kidney disease who are on potassium-restricted diets usually need to keep their potassium intake below 2,000 mg per day.

If you have kidney disease, you should have your potassium checked by your doctor. Theyll do this with a simple blood test. The blood test will determine your monthly level of potassium millimoles per liter of blood .

The three levels are:

  • Safe zone: 3.5 to 5.0 mmol/L
  • Caution zone: 5.1 to 6.0 mmol/L
  • Danger zone: 6.0 mmol/L or higher

Your doctor can work with you to determine how much potassium you should ingest daily, while also maintaining the highest level of nutrition possible. Theyll also monitor your levels to ensure that youre staying within a safe range.

People with high potassium levels do not always have symptoms, so being monitored is important. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • fatigue

What Is A Normal Amount Of Potassium Intake Per Day For The Average Healthy Individual

High Potassium and Chronic Kidney Disease: A Patient’s Story

A normal amount of potassium in a typical diet of a healthy American is about 3500 to 4500 milligrams per day. A potassium restricted diet is typically about 2000 milligrams per day. Your physician or dietitian will advise you as to the specific level of restriction you need based on your individual health. A kidney dietitian is trained to help you make modifications to you diet in order to prevent complications for kidney disease.

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Ask The Doctors: Is A High Potassium Level Bad

Q.My potassium level is high, and my physician stopped the medication that has successfully controlled my blood pressure for years, lisinopril. What is the danger from high potassium, and why is lisinopril a problem?

A. Potassium is important for the electrical activity of the cells in your heart, and levels that are below 3.4 milligrams per deciliter or above 5.0 mg/dL can lead to heart rhythm problems that may be life-threatening. Some medications used for high blood pressure, heart failure, and other cardiovascular problems can affect potassium levels, so levels must be checked often.

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Daily Phosphorus Intake For Ckd Patients

In the state of chronic kidney disease, patients are advised by specialized doctors for taking a special diet. CKD patients have to consume phosphorus in a small amount. Phosphorus mainly helps your kidneys to perform their functions efficiently. It also helps your body in maintaining a healthy balance of all the fluids and minerals. It also balances uric acid levels in your body by increasing the amount and frequency of urination. Kidney patients may experience many physical problems by consuming phosphorus. If a CKD patient takes phosphorus, then he/she is prone to the following health problems:

  • Anxiety

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What Are The Tests For High Potassium

The only way to know for sure if your potassium level is healthy is to have a blood test. The test measures how much potassium is in your blood.

The blood test is like many other blood tests that you may be familiar with. A small needle is placed into a vein on your arm and your blood is drawn out into a tube. The blood is sent to lab to be tested.

Potassium may be called something else in your test results. If you do not see potassium, look for either:

  • Serum potassium
  • K

A potassium of higher than 5.2 millimoles per liter is usually considered high but your doctor or lab might use slightly different numbers. Talk to your doctor about what your test results mean.

Because very high potassium can be dangerous, your doctor or nurse may contact you first if your results are unusually high. In this case, they may ask you to go to an emergency room or hospital.

Can Hyperkalemia Be Managed

Webinar: Potassium and Kidney Disease

As a nephrologist, I work with my patients regularly to make sure I am frequently checking their potassium levels. However, potassium monitoring is also part of the routine physical many people receive from their primary care provider.

If you have CKD or other chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease too much potassium can become a problem, and you should talk to your doctor about managing your potassium levels. A simple checkup can provide you with the information you need to take charge of your health.

Your treatment plan is determined by testing your kidney and heart function and assessing how rapidly the disorder developed and the severity of your illness. Your doctor may recommend water pills or medicines such as potassium binders, which help rid the body of excess potassium.

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How Much Potassium Should I Assume Per Day

The quantity of potassium that an average person should assume is dictated by the national academy of medicine. It specifies that for a female of 19 or older, its AIs is 2600 mg/day, while for a male more than 19, the AI is set to 3400mg/day.

Consuming one tablespoon of root ginger means assuming 1% of the total potassium needed for a diet based on 2000 calories. While considering 100g of it means that you reach 9% of potassium .

What Is High Potassium

  • High levels of potassium in the blood is unpredictable and can be life-threatening. It can cause serious heart problems and sudden death.1-3 There are often no warning signs, meaning a person can have high potassium without knowing it.4
  • If symptoms do occur, they are often nonspecific such as heart palpitations, nausea, weakness, or paresthesia.5 Paresthesia is an abnormal sensation of tingling, numbness, or burning that is usually felt in the hands, feet, arms, or legs.
  • Blood potassium > 5.0 indicates potassium imbalance.6 Arbitrary thresholds are used to indicate degree of severity, such as mild , moderate , and severe .5,7 Clinical severity is determined by the speed of onset, magnitude of the severity, and the development of clinical findings.4
  • Hyperkalemia is further classified as chronic or acute.5 Acute hyperkalemia represents a single event, occurring over hours to days and usually requires emergency treatment. Chronic hyperkalemia develops over the course of weeks to months, may be persistent or develop periodically, and requires ongoing outpatient management.
  • A person’s potassium levels can be easily checked with a simple blood test. The healthcare provider draws a small blood sample, and sends it to a laboratory for analysis. This is usually part of a routine blood test given during a physical exam. It is often performed as part of a basic metabolic panel, which checks for several conditions, including kidney function and diabetes.

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Should I Eat Whole Wheat Bread On A Kidney Diet

You may have heard not to eat whole wheat bread on a kidney diet, especially on dialysis or as you get closer to stage 5 kidney disease. Many parts of the kidney diet are confusing. You might have heard how much better it is to get a high fiber diet from all the other sources of nutrition information you have that are not related to kidney diets, but sometimes this is not the best course for your kidney meal plan. You may have started to realize how much unlearning you now have to do in your meal planning since you have to avoid certain foods or eat more of others. In addition, these may be foods you once loved. Do you have to give up on wheat bread or not? Read on to learn more about potassium in whole wheat bread and how that affects what you should be eating.

If you want to start with some healthy meals, download our FREE 7 Days Of Easy Dinner Meals and Recipes with grocery lists.

How To Manage Phosphorus Content

Kidney Conversations: High Potassium & Your Kidneys

As CKD progresses, a patient may need to take a phosphate binder to control the phosphorus in the blood. These binders act like sponges to soak up or bind, phosphorus while it is in the stomach. The phosphorus does not get into the blood since it is bound.

Phosphorus found in animal foods is absorbed more easily compared to plant-based phosphorus. Inorganic phosphorus that is added in fast foods, ready-to-eat foods, canned and bottled drinks, cured meats, and most processed foods is completely absorbed by the body.

It is, therefore, ideal to read the nutrition facts of the food, at the back of the label, if you are looking to manage or limit your phosphorus intake. Also wise to steer clear from products with phosphorus additives such as:

  • Calcium phosphate
  • Sodium tripolyphosphate
  • Tetrasodium pyrophosphate

Limiting your consumption of these high phosphorus foods can also keep your phosphorus level within range.

  • Dairy foods
  • Beans
  • Nuts and peanut butter
  • Processed meats
  • Cola
  • Canned iced teas and lemonade
  • Bran cereals
  • Egg yolk

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Is Tomato Sauce Bad For Kidneys

Tomatoes are another high potassium fruit that may not fit the guidelines of a renal diet. They can be served raw or stewed and are often used to make sauces. Just 1 cup of tomato sauce can contain upwards of 900 mg of potassium . Unfortunately, for those on a renal diet, tomatoes are commonly used in many dishes.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperkalaemia

Although hyperkalaemia itself doesn’t usually have any obvious symptoms, you may notice some of the effects such as:

  • Feeling very tired or weak
  • Stomach pain or nausea
  • Weakness in the arms and/or legs
  • Unusual heartbeat or chest pains

These symptoms may develop slowly over several months. However, if you have CKD and are receiving dialysis, the symptoms can develop very quickly over just a few days. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

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Potassium And Reduced Kidney Function Or Ckd

For people with reduced kidney function , too much potassium can be dangerous, even fatal. Fortunately, many patients know that elevated potassium levels are a threat. In a survey by the National Kidney Foundation, 50 percent of CKD patients said high potassium was a very important health concern. However, CKD patients who were surveyed were not necessarily aware of their potassium levels. In my own practice, many of my patients are not aware of their potassium levels until I point out to them that their levels are abnormal. This disconnect is a real problem and concern without real-world knowledge can lead to dangerous outcomes.

Path To Improved Health

Potassium is Essential for your Body

Some of the waste that can build up in your blood comes from nutrients in the food you eat. Your body needs most of these nutrients for its day-to-day functions. When your kidneys arent working well, the following nutrients can become a problem.

Phosphorous. Phosphorous is a mineral that keeps bones healthy and strong. But, even in early stages of chronic kidney disease, the level of phosphorous in your blood can become too high. A high level of phosphorous can cause itchy skin. It can also cause your bones to lose calcium. If this happens, your bones will get weaker and more brittle. You also have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.

Foods high in phosphorous include:

  • Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
  • Dried beans and peas, such as kidney beans, split peas, and lentils.
  • Nuts and peanut butter.
  • Drinks like beer, cola, and hot cocoa.

If your phosphorous level is too high even after you change your diet, your doctor may prescribe medicine to lower it.

Calcium. You need calcium to build strong bones. Unfortunately, foods that contain calcium often also contain phosphorous. If you have chronic kidney disease, you may need to take calcium supplements that are phosphorous-free. Your doctor may also prescribe a special type of vitamin D. This will help your body absorb calcium.

Protein. You need protein to build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, skin, and blood. Protein also helps your body fight infection and heal wounds.

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