Hyperkalemia Symptoms

Hyperkalemia symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Diarrhea

  • Chest pain

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Numbness or weakness in muscles

  • Vomiting



Hyperkalemia is an unhealthy medical condition in which your blood contains more potassium then your body needs.

Although potassium is an essential substance to fulfill your nutrition need and also helps your nerve, heart and brain to work properly but too much intake of potassium can damage your nerve and muscle cells which leads to heart failure and nerves breakdown.

Hyperkalemia is the serum potassium contraction which is greater than 5.0-5.5 mEq/L in adults whereas this range is age dependent in infants.

Range of serum potassium contraction and its problems:

Following are the different range of serum potassium contraction and the problems cause by higher level of potassium contraction:

Range of serum potassium contraction Problems
5.0-5.5 mEq/L No harm (normal range in adult)
5.5-6.8 mEq/L Nausea, muscular pain, stomach pain
7 mEq/L Effect on structure and functions of nervous system which cause abnormalities
More than 8 mEq/L Paralysis, cardiac arrest


Hyperkalemia symptoms usually increase gradually in weeks or even in month and show very less symptoms which includes muscular pain, numbness, weakness, nausea and other unusual feelings.

Hyperkalemia on its initial level is usually curable with some medication and diet plan but when you caught by sudden hyperkalemia you will need immediate treatment because sudden hyperkalemia is life threaten when left untreated in which you may experience:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitation
  • Paralysis
  • Heart failure

Hyperkalemia Symptoms In Adult:

The symptoms of high potassium or hyperkalemia in adults include:

  • Heart palpitation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscles weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Diarrhea

Hyperkalemia Symptoms In Infants:

Hyperkalemia is although very rare in infants and inherited from family.

There are the following symptoms of hyperkalemia in infants:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Respiratory weakness or failure
  • Vomiting
  • Tingling

Management or treatment of hyperkalemia in infants contains 3 steps:

  • Immediate stabilization of cell membrane
  • Potassium shifting
  • Total body potassium elimination

Hyperkalemia VS Hypokalemia:

Hyperkalemia Hypokalemia
CAUSE of hyperkalemia includes high intake of lactogenic, tissues breakdown, insulin deficiency. CAUSE of hypokalemia includes low intake of lactogenic, cellular loss, extra renal loss, and high insulin.
Muscular weakness, paralysis, heart failure are the SYMPTOMS of hyperkalemia. Fatigue, cramps, constipation and polydipsia are the SYMPTOMS of hypokalemia.
Small P waves, tall tented T waves, prolonged PR and broad QRS are the major ECG CHANGES of a hyperkalemia patient. Small inverted T waves, U waves, prolonged PR and non-specific ST depression are the ECG CHANGES of a hypokalemia patient.
IV nebulizer, cation exchange resin and dialysis are the options of TREATMENT for hyperkalemia. Mist KCL, Diuretic potassium sparing are the methods of TREATMENT for hypokalemia.

Hyperkalemia symptoms in animals:

Hyperkalemia is very common in animals then in human. It usually happens when animals are dehydrated or having less urination. As the result an animal may experience depression, muscular weakness and cardiac abnormalities.
The rate of hyperkalemia is high in cats, dogs and horse.

Hyperkalemia symptoms in dogs:

Since potassium is very essential for dog’s body specially brain and heart so it is very necessary to keep track of its potassium level and treat immediately when you got any symptoms of unbalanced potassium level.
Hyperkalemia symptoms in dogs are:

  • Difficult urinating
  • Low urine volume
  • Vomiting
  • Slow heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • weakness

There are many reasons of hyperkalemia in dogs in which some of them can be treated easily while others are very difficult and can be life threating such as renal failure.
The common causes of hyperkalemia in dogs are:

Hyperkalemia symptoms in cats:

As we know that kidney is the vital ■■■■■ which is responsible to remove waste and extra chemical from the body through urination especially in cats. High potassium level in cats is always due to the problem in urinary track which cause hyperkalemia in cats.

The symptoms of hyperkalemia in cats include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Muscular weakness
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite

The common causes of hyperkalemia in cats are:


Potassium is no doubt an essential electrolyte for heart and brain but too much of potassium can be life threating. Hyperkalemia is itself not a disease it is a serum which is created due to high potassium level in your body than normal. If your body has high level of potassium it can affect your brain, lungs and heart badly. Slightly high level of potassium usually does not show any symptoms and is curable with some diet modification but it can be dangerous and life threating when left un-treated.

ECG changes - hyperkalemia:


There are several factors that affect the level of potassium in human body and can produce hyperkalemia.

Some of the common cause includes:

Some other causes of hyperkalemia are:

  • Dehydration
  • Destruction of red blood cell
  • Extreme use of potassium supplement
  • Beta blockers
  • Type I diabetes

Acute Kidney Failure:

Acute kidney failure also known as acute renal failure or acute kidney injury. It occurs when your kidney stops filtering waste of your body which led to unbalance chemical level of blood.


Symptoms of acute kidney failure include:

  • Decrease urination
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Chest pain
  • Coma (extremely severe case)
  • Nausea
  • Weakness and fatigue

Chronic Kidney Diseases:

Chronic kidney diseases also known as chronic kidney failure in which human body loss kidney functions gradually and stops kidney to filter body waste which increase the level of fluid, electrolyte and waste in human body.


Symptoms of chronic kidney diseases include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problem
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Muscles cramps
  • Swelling of feet
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Hypertension
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Adrenal Insufficiency:

Adrenal insufficiency is also known as Addison’s diseases in which your body produce very low amount of some specific hormones. Adrenal insufficiency reduces the production of aldosterone and cortisol. Both male and female can effected through this diseases.


The symptoms of Adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s diseases include:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Depression
  • Weight and hair loss
  • Salt carving

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers:

Angiotensin II receptor blockers work against a chemical named angiotensin which narrow your blood vessels and make your heart work ■■■■■■. Angiotensin II receptor blockers widen your blood vessels and decrease the pressure of your blood.
Angiotensin II receptor blockers is used to treat following issues:

Side Effects:

Side effects of using Angiotensin II receptor blockers include:

  • Hyperkalemia
  • Angioedema
  • Dizziness

Angiotensin converting enzymes inhibitors:

Angiotensin converting enzymes inhibitor is a medication and has same use as Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers. It fights against the body enzyme named Angiotensin II, it is a substance which narrow blood vessels and make your heart work ■■■■■■. This medication relaxes your blood vessels and helps your heart work easier.
Angiotensin converting enzymes inhibitors use to treat following problems:

Side Effects:

Side effects of Angiotensin converting enzymes inhibitor includes:

  • Hyperkalemia
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste
  • Dizziness


Treatment of hyperkalemia is totally depends upon your body condition. Following is the list of methods to treat hyperkalemia:

  • Intravenous therapies
  • Dialysis
  • Diuretic
  • Potassium removing agents
  • Albuterol
  • Diet modification

Intravenous Therapies:

The intravenous therapies or IV therapies are emergency treatments, it is used when your body’s potassium level is extremely high and you need to drop the potassium level immediately.

Intravenous calcium neutralizes the effect of high potassium in your body and regulates the electric system in your heart, nerve and muscles. Your doctors may also recommend you intravenous sodium bicarbonate when you have severe kidney problem or having diabetes which is not in control.


Dialysis or hemodialysis is preferred and quick method to treat hyperkalemia when your kidney function is badly damaged or your potassium level is extremely high. In this method an artificial system is attached outside of your body to remove waste, salt and extra chemicals including potassium from your body.

You may be needed to keep having dialysis to prevent hyperkalemia.


Diuretic is also known as water pills. By talking diuretic as your doctor’s prescription you’ll have frequent urination which helps to take out extra potassium from your body.
The side effects of taking diuretic include:

  • Hypokalemia
  • Hypernatremia
  • Dehydration
  • Muscular disorder

Potassium Removing Agents:

Potassium removing agents works by girding excessive potassium and prepare it for other minerals in your body. It is inserted in your body through excretory track which is then inhale potassium from the body and converts into the useful minerals in your body. It is basically use to control hyperkalemia in people having diabetes, chronic kidney diseases, heart failure and high blood pressure.

While there is no side effects of using potassium removing agents, but someone may experience following common side effects:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain


Albuterol is basically a spray which can be taken through nebulizer and it can cause your heart beat faster that’s way it is not recommended treatment and not commonly used treatment method. It can be consider only in worst condition where the other treatment is not working and also cannot have dialysis.

Diet Modification:

Another way to treat hyperkalemia is to make modification in your diet plan and try to limit or completely cutoff your potassium intake. But this may help you only when your potassium level is under control and your diseases is mild.

If you see your doctor for hyperkalemia treatment your doctor will advise you to stop those food which builds up potassium in blood or at least limit them, your physician may ask you to have those meal which are lower in potassium because very low potassium level can also trouble your body.

Potassium restricted diet allows you to take 2,000 mg of potassium per day while a healthy adult human body required 2,600 to 3,400 mg of potassium every day.

Foods To Add Or Avoid:

Here is the list of food which is to be added or avoid in hyperkalemia according to the amount of potassium it contains:

Foods rich in potassium Foods contain low potassium
Banana Berries
Avocados Apples
Raisins Grape fruits
Prunes and prune juice Pineapple
Oranges and orange juice Cranberry and cranberry juice
Tomatoes, tomatoes juice and tomato sauce Cauliflowers
Lentils Broccoli
Spanish Egg plants
Brussels sprouts Green beans
Split peas White rice
Potatoes White pasta
Pumpkins White bread
Dried apricots Egg whites
Milk Canned tuna
Bran products
Low sodium cheese

Home remedies to treat hyperkalemia:

Although high potassium level needs emergency medical treatment as it can cause your heart failure and can damage other vital organs but you can also treat hyperkalemia at home when it is not at risk.
There are following home remedies to treat hyperkalemia:

Inspect salt substitute:

Some of the salt replacements are also contain high potassium which is harmful in hyperkalemia so when you are buying any salt substitute avoid those which contain potassium chloride.

Drink lots of water:

Make sure your body is not dehydrated; drink good quantity of water so that extra potassium and other waste of your body can excrete through urine.

Cut-off certain herbs:

Herbs are usually harmless but some of them should be avoid when your potassium level is high. Alfalfa, nettle and dandelion can be risky in hyperkalemia.

How to leach potassium from vegetables?

Leaching or removing potassium is a process to take out some extra potassium from the potassium rich food but it does not mean that it remove all the potassium from food, you still need to be cautious while taking high-potassium food.
There are the steps of leaching potassium from vegetables:

  • First cut the vegetables and soak in cold water.
  • Then rinse and soak for another 2 hours in warm water.
  • Then cook the vegetables in water which is five times greater than the amount of vegetables.

How to diagnose hyperkalemia?

There are several method to diagnose hyperkalemia, some of them are:

  • Blood test
  • Urine test
  • Cardiac test
  • Differential diagnose


1. Which kidney disease causes hyperkalemia?

Chronic kidney disease is the major cause of hyperkalemia. In this disease kidney does not work properly and fail to excrete extra potassium from the body which cause increase in serum potassium level in body.

2. How much potassium is necessary for a healthy person diet?

A healthy person should take 3,500-4,000 mg of potassium daily. In order to fulfill your potassium needs you need to add following in your daily diet:

  • Spanish
  • Banana
  • Avocados
  • Fish

3. What supplements should be avoided in hyperkalemia?

Herbal supplements which are recommended for general health may contain potassium which is dangerous in hyperkalemia. There is the list of supplements which can be responsible to increase potassium level:

  • Milkweed
  • Lily of the valley
  • Siberian ginseng
  • Hawthorn berries
  • Noni juice
  • Alfalfa
  • Dandelion
  • Horsetail
  • Nettle

4. What are the symptoms of low potassium?

The symptoms of low potassium include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Muscles twitching
  • False paralysis
  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Abdomen cramping

5. Is dehydration one of the causes of hyperkalemia?

Dehydration can be the cause of hyperkalemia. Drink lots of water so that extra potassium can be excrete through urination.

6. What are the stages of hyperkalemia?

Hyperkalemia generally divided into three levels which is mild, moderate and severe. If the serum potassium level is between 5.5-6.0 mEq/L then no need to be worried as it is manageable and can be controlled through slightly diet change. 6.1-7.0 mEq/L is the moderate level and you need to be cautious as it can affect some of the vital organs. Greater than 7.0 mEq/L is the severe and dangerous stage of hyperkalemia if can be life threating when left un-manageable.

7. What to do with severe hyperkalemia?

If the patient is suffering from severe hyperkalemia following treatment should be given to control potassium level:

  • IVC to avoid cardiac issue.
  • Avoid potassium intake in any form.
  • Enhance potassium consumption through cell by providing IVG and insulin infusion.
  • Sodium bicarbonate for any stomach issue.
  • Nebulize with albuterol 10 mg in case of renal failure.
  • Emergency dialysis.

8. What action a doctor takes to quickly reduce potassium level?

Emergency treatment of hyperkalemia includes:

  • Kidney dialysis
  • IVC and IVG to secure vital organs
  • Insulin

9. How many cups of coffee are safe in hyperkalemia?

Three to four cups of coffee can raise your potassium level. If your potassium level is mild you can consume less than three cups of coffee but you need to immediately stop coffee consumption if you have severe hyperkalemia.

10. Which cancer leads to hyperkalemia?

chest cancer, renal cancer and prostate cancer are most common type of cancer which leads to hyperkalemia.


Some common hyperkalemia symptoms are weakness, muscular pain, nausea, vomiting, cardiac arrest and paralysis. Some of these symptoms are not most likely to be appeared for everyone. If your potassium level is slightly high there will be no symptoms or maybe you feel nausea, weakness or vomiting. But if your potassium level is considerably high you may experience cardiac arrest, respiratory system failure and paralysis. Hyperkalemia is itself not a disease and can be treated at home with some medication and diet modification but it can life threating when left untreated.

Potassium is an important electrolyte which takes part in heart functions and nerves system. So it is very necessary to keep track on your potassium level, it should be balanced. If your body potassium level is high is cause HYPERKALEMIA it usually occurs when your body is unable to excrete extra potassium from your body, due to fail in excretion potassium starts gather around your heart or in linings of lungs which damage your heart, lungs and other vital organs of your body.
A balanced amount of potassium and other components and very necessary for a healthy body.