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Home :: Potassium Imbalance

Potassium Imbalance

Above-normal levels (hyperkalemia) or below-normal levels (hypokalemia) of fluids and body cells.


  • Chronic kidney disease with kidney failure. Failing kidneys eliminate potassium too slowly, causing an excess in the body.
  • Use of oral potassium supplements.
  • Burns or crushing injuries. These may release potassium from into body fluids.
  • Addison's disease.

Signs and symptoms


  • Muscle cramps, particularly following or accompanying exercise.
  • Weakness and paralysis.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Life-threatening rapid, irregular heartbeat. This is more severe than with hyperkalemia.


  • Weakness and paralysis.
  • Dangerously rapid, irregular heartbeat or slow heartbeat (sometimes).
  • Nausea and diarrhea.


  • Your own observation of symptoms, especially muscle weakness and heart-rhythm changes.
  • Medical history and exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory blood and urine studies of potassium, sodium and other electrolytes.
  • EKG.


Medical Treatment

  • Monitoring of blood potassium levels, treatment of underlying disorders and prescription of medications by a doctor.
  • Hospitalization (severe cases).


Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Oral potassium supplements to raise low levels.
  • Diuretics to increase urination and decrease high potassium levels.
  • Intravenous fluids to correct a serious imbalance.
  • Medications appropriate for the underlying disease.

Home Treatment- If you take diuretics and digitalis, your friends and family members should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Learn to count your own pulse at the wrist or neck, and report significant variations to your doctor.

Dietary Sources of Potassium:

Some of the best sources of potassium in the diet include bananas, citrus fruit, grains, vegetables, meat and fish.

  • If you have a disorder or take drugs that affect potassium levels (see Causes & Risk Factor), learn as much as you can about your condition, your drugs and how you can prevent a potassium imbalance.
  • If you take digitalis and diuretics, have frequent blood studies to monitor potassium levels.
  • For Prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, reduce activities and seek medical care.

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