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How do you treat high potassium levels?

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Quick Answer

Moderate to severe potassium elevations are treated with insulin, diuretics, sodium polystyrene sulfonate or hemodialysis, according to WebMD. In someone with a mildly elevated potassium level, reducing dietary potassium intake usually corrects the problem, as reported by the Merck Manual Professional Edition.

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How do you treat high potassium levels?
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Full Answer

Too much potassium in the blood, a condition called hyperkalemia, sometimes causes weakness, slow heart rate or abnormal heart rhythm, as stated by WebMD. In some cases, hyperkalemia is the result of taking in too much potassium from foods and beverages. Limiting the intake of high-potassium foods prevents too much potassium from entering the bloodstream, as reported by the National Kidney Foundation. Bananas, oranges, peanut butter and black beans are all high-potassium foods.

Drug-induced hyperkalemia is caused by the use of medications that make it difficult for the kidneys to filter potassium out of the blood, according to WebMD. The Merck Manual Professional Edition notes that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, potassium-sparing diuretics, beta-blockers and antibiotics have all been linked to drug-induced hyperkalemia. Discontinuing the use of these drugs should correct high potassium levels.

Sodium polystyrene sulfonate eliminates potassium from the bloodstream via the digestive tract. Diuretics, also called water pills, prompt the urinary system to eliminate excess potassium in the urine. Insulin moves potassium from the bloodstream into the cells. Hemodialysis is usually reserved for people with life-threatening hyperkalemia, as reported by WebMD. During a hemodialysis session, an artificial kidney is used to filter the blood, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

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