Disorder of Potassium and Sodium

Potassium and Sodium are electrolytes that are essential to maintaining your optimal health and are necessary for your cells to function in the body. Imbalances in either Potassium or Sodium can cause serious health hazards, most importantly affecting the heart and brain.

Symptoms:

  • Heart Palpitation or changes in heart rate.
    Do be careful. High Potassium can be fatal to your heart and can cause life-threatening arrhythmias that can alter your hearts ability to function properly.
  • Muscle aches or weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Symptoms of high or low sodium balance in your blood:Causes of Hyperkalemia or Hypokalemia

  • Headache
  • Change in mental status or confusion
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Coma
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Gait imbalances or trouble walking
  • Seizure

Causes of Hyperkalemia or Hypokalemia:

Hyperkalemia (High Potassium in blood)

  • New onset Kidney Failure
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Medications
  • Diseases affecting your adrenal gland
  • Taking potassium supplements or vitamins
  • Diet high in potassium (Mango, bananas etc.,)

Hypokalemia (Low Potassium in Blood)

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Medications (Diuretics, etc)
  • Malnutrition
  • Genetic diseases affecting your kidney's ability to hold onto potassium.

Common foods high in Potassium:

Especially important for Patients afflicted with Chronic Kidney Disease.

How to avoid Hyperkalemia (High Potassium) in your blood?

(If you have Chronic Kidney Disease)
1_ Monitor your diet and avoid consuming excess amounts of food that are high in potassium (refer to above chart).
2_ Ask your Kidney Doctor to review your list of medications on each visit.
3_ If you are using vitamins or herbal medications, review them with your doctor.
4_ Have your doctor check your potassium level routinely as needed.

Causes:

What are the causes of Hyponatremia (Low sodium in body)?

  • Medications (Diuretics, etc…)
  • Drinking massive, excess amounts of water beyond your usual thirst (Usually >7 liters a day) although exact amount varies based on patient weight and nutrition status)
  • Cancer, congestive heart failure , liver disease, or advanced kidney failure
  • Alcoholism
  • Diseases affecting your adrenal gland
  • Malnutrition

What are the causes of Hypernatremia (High Sodium in Blood)?

  • Dehydration (Not drinking enough water)
  • Diabetes Insipidus (Disease affecting your kidney causing excess urination >3-4L a day)
  • Medications (Diuretics, etc)

Most common questions our patients ask:

Question 1: Does abnormal sodium or potassium levels in my blood always cause symptoms?

No- Not Always! Usually symptoms will occur when levels of electrolytes become more out of range from normal values, therefore having your Kidney Doctor monitor your blood levels on each visits will help detect early abnormalities with your potassium or sodium balances, and therefore help to treat them early on, in order to optimize your health.

Question 2: How serious is Hyperkalemia (High potassium in your blood) and what is the most common causes?

Very Serious! High levels of potassium can cause fatal heart conditions, which are dangerous to your health. This is especially important when you have new onset kidney failure or chronic kidney disease. The most common two causes of high potassium in your body are a) new onset kidney failure b) eating high potassium diet, refer to chart above which indicates common foods high in potassium.

Question 3: What is a common cause of Hyponatremia (low Sodium in blood)?

Diuretic medication (usually given for patients with swelling of legs or heart problems). Never abruptly stop these medications without first talking to your doctor as not every patient on diuretic develop hyponatremia.

Question 4: What can I do to make sure my electrolytes are in balance?

If you have chronic kidney disease or have ever had any of the above electrolyte imbalances mentioned (Potassium or Sodium), make an appointment with a Kidney Doctor to discuss possible causes and prevention methods to keep your health optimal and avoid complications.

Copyright by Florida Kidney Physicians.