What Does Too Much Potassium in Your Blood Indicate?


Quick Answer

A high level of potassium in the blood may result from kidney damage, overuse of potassium supplements, too much acid in the blood and certain medications, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, according to WebMD. Other causes include crushing injuries, severe burns and diabetic ketoacidosis.

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Full Answer

Conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis draw potassium from normal body tissue into the blood, while kidney injuries and kidney damage prevent the organ from effectively removing potassium from the blood, as stated by WebMD. Potassium levels in the blood tend to rise as sodium levels fall, and the hormone aldosterone also affects potassium levels. Certain cancer treatments are known to raise potassium levels.

Although normal potassium ranges differ from lab to lab, an average adult should have 3.5 to 5.2 milliequivalents of potassium per liter of blood, while children normally have 3.4 to 4.7 milliequivalents per liter, as noted by WebMD. High potassium levels can result from numerous conditions, and doctors may order testing because of confirmed or suspected kidney disorders or hypertension. Patients who are receiving dialysis or potassium supplementation may also need frequent testing. Symptoms of abnormal potassium levels include diarrhea, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps, dehydration, low blood pressure, irritability, confusion, paralysis and heart rhythm changes.

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