What are the signs of excess potassium and when might it happen?

What are the signs of excess potassium and when might it happen?

The amount of potassium is maintained at a constant level and is the most significant electrolyte in the body. Every value above or below this range can cause heart problems. The physiological concentration of potassium in blood is 3,5 - 5,5 mmol/l. Hyperkalaemia, or having too much potassium in the body, is a condition that happens just as frequently as hypokalaemia, or having too little potassium.

When potassium-containing supplements are used as directed, they serve as a beneficial complement to the diet's potassium supply and are very unlikely to cause hyperkalaemia. This may possibly be half the daily recommended intake for this element. So where does the body get its surplus potassium from?

How does the body control its amount of potassium?

About 150 g of potassium are present in our bodies. This supply is primarily found inside the body's cells, primarily in the skeletal muscles, heart, red blood cells, bones, and liver. Only a small portion of the systemic potassium content is found in the blood, and it is this amount that is strictly regulated to ensure that it stays within the lower and upper limits of the physiological concentration.

Although eating foods high in potassium is the best way to get it, many individuals also prefer to use potassium-containing dietary supplements.

The top dietary sources of potassium are:

  • tomatoes
  • avocado
  • seeds, kernels nuts, or legumes
  • cocoa
  • parsley leaves
  • mineral waters
  • poppy seeds

The majority of the time, a diet that doesn't supply enough potassium results from eating too few fruits and vegetables. As a result, it is unlikely that the diet will contain an excessive amount of this important electrolyte. Additionally, the body's potassium levels are tightly controlled; any excess is eliminated through the kidneys or gastrointestinal system. However, there is too much potassium if those controlling systems are upset. What kinds of circumstances lead to an overabundance of this element in the body?

Can you overdose on potassium?

About 4700 mg of potassium is needed daily, with pregnant women needing a little bit more. If something happens to make the body lose potassium, the body has to immediately restock its supply. These circumstances typically include using laxatives and diuretics, experiencing diarrhea and vomiting, engaging in strenuous activity, or having kidney disease. The diet has relatively few options in this situation; a potassium supplement will be considerably more effective. Is it feasible to overdose on potassium in this manner? No, not if you take the supplement as directed and at the dosages advised by the manufacturer. Even if you consume the recommended amount of potassium through food, taking supplements will result in an overabundance of this mineral.

Kidney conditions that make it impossible to regulate the blood's potassium level as well as enhanced potassium release from cells turn out to be an issue.


The most frequent reasons for a high potassium level in the body are listed below:

  • bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract, generated by inflammations or ulcers
  • excess of insulin synthesized by pancreas or taken for a diabetes treatment
  • taking drugs that hold the potassium in the body (i.e. certain diuretics or circulatory disorder drugs)
  • rhabdomyolysis, which is degradation of muscle cells due to traumas or traffic accidents
  • kidney failure
  • dehydration

Symptoms of high potassium levels in the body

Similar to having little potassium, having too much potassium in the body primarily presents as cardiac dysfunction. Because of this, maintaining the proper level of potassium in the blood is essential for the proper conduction of neuromuscular impulses and also regulates muscle spasms; abnormalities in its level have a detrimental effect on the conduction of muscular impulses. The heart's ability to work improperly, arrhythmia, reduced muscle strength, and muscle paralysis are thus symptoms of an excess of this electrolyte. Additional symptoms include spasms, tingling, and numbness in the limbs. Apathy and chronic weariness are regular occurrences.

A distinctive EKG imaging and an elevated potassium level in blood tests can be used to confirm the diagnosis of an excessive potassium level. Eliminating the cause, such as stopping the usage of medications or insulin, or curing the underlying illness, is how hyperkalaemia is treated. IV injections of glucose or calcium gluconate are used as interim treatments.

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