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What are the effects of high potassium levels in the body?

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Quick Answer

Effects of high potassium levels in the body may include breathing difficulties, erratic heartbeat, feelings of weakness and nausea, and sensations such as tingling or numbness, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, individuals with high potassium levels do not always display symptoms.

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What are the effects of high potassium levels in the body?
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Full Answer

An accumulation of too much potassium in the blood is also known as hyperkalemia, and it can be extremely dangerous. The condition may occur due to kidney disease, Addison's disease, burn or crush injuries, excessive potassium consumption, or the use of certain medications, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Doctors may identify hyperkalemia with blood tests or electrocardiograms. Treatments for hyperkalemia aim to curtail the effects of the condition, as well as decrease potassium levels in the blood by excreting excess potassium or shifting potassium from the blood into the cells. This may include the use of calcium, insulin, sodium bicarbonate and diuretics, states the University of Maryland Medical Center. Individuals with dysfunctional kidneys are likely to require dialysis.

Patients with hyperkalemia may make changes to their diet under the guidance of their doctors to alleviate the condition, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center. This can include limiting their intake of foods that are high in potassium, such as bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, lentils and salmon. They should also drink sufficient amounts of water to prevent dehydration, which can worsen the condition.

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