What is Hyperkalemia? Hyperkalemia is the medical term for when you experience high potassium levels in your blood. In terms of numbers, a healthy individual will have between 3.6mmol/L and 5.2mmol/L in their body. Anything higher than that is officially classified as hyperkalemia. Between 5.3mmol/L and 6.0mmol/L is mild hyperkalemia. Between 6.1mmol/L and 7.0 mmol/L is moderate hyperkalemia. Above 7mmol/L is severe hyperkalemia. Why is Too Much Potassium Harmful? Potassium is healthy for you in the right doses. Your body needs it to function properly. It is an incredibly important substance that plays a vital role in your nerves and muscle cells. This means that you need it for your heart to work. Like with anything else, too much of a good thing is not good. The more common form of hyperkalemia only rears mild to moderate symptoms. The most extreme severities of this condition can result in death. Symptoms of Hyperkalemia Generally, until your hyperkalemia is severe, you may not even experience or recognize any of the symptoms. As your levels soar to dangerous heights, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms: Muscle weakness or pain. Your muscles may feel tender or even painful. It may feel as though you just finished an intense workout. Fatigue. Despite getting adequate sleep, you may feel sluggish and tired the entire day or you may be too weak to function. Nausea. An upset stomach may or may not be accompanied by some vomiting. This is a common sign of hyperkalemia. Breathing problems. You may find it difficult to take deep breaths or find yourself forced to gasp for air. Irregular heartbeat. Your heart may beat funnily or feel weird in your chest. This is always a symptom to bring up to your doctor immediately. Chest pains. Chest pains ranging from mild to severe are a common result of hyperkalemia. In the most extreme cases, hyperkalemia left untreated can cause cardiac arrest and death. What Causes Hyperkalemia? There are several known causes of hyperkalemia, which range from medical disorders to lifestyle habits. Hyperkalemia is known to have many causes. These include: Kidney Disease The main function of a kidney is that it filters everything in your body. When there is something wrong with your kidneys, it can mess up all sorts of vitamin levels in your body. Potassium is just one of them. Heart Disease Heart disease results in a variety of factors that make it more likely to have problems with your potassium levels. Hormone Imbalances Having abnormally low amounts of aldosterone can result in potassium problems. This can happen due to a variety of conditions, including hypoaldosteronism and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Diabetes A lack of insulin may be the culprit behind enhanced potassium levels. This is something that would be more likely to occur if diabetes is undermanaged (or undiagnosed). [youmaylike] Medications Side effects of certain medications could cause potassium levels to rise. You may be surprised to see that some common medications will do this. Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, will do it. Some of the other medications that can do this are heparin, mannitol, beta-blockers, angiotensin inhibitors, calcium blockers, and cyclosporine. Diet Medications are not the only way to introduce potassium to the body. There are lots of foods that can lead to heightened potassium levels. Many of these foods are healthy, but to a person at risk for hyperkalemia, they can be dangerous if not eaten in responsible quantities. There is also the chance that you are a victim of pseudo hyperkalemia. As the name suggests, you do not have any potassium problems. Sometimes due to faulty equipment, you will get a wrong reading. Hyperkalemia Treatment To determine how to treat hyperkalemia, it is important that you first identify the cause of it in yourself. Getting advice from a licensed medical physician is the best way to determine your treatments. Diet Change Changing your diet can do wonders for your health. If you battle hyperkalemia, consider limiting your intake of foods rich in potassium like cucumbers, pumpkins, potatoes, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, eggplants and peas. Intravenous Calcium or Insulin and Glucose Medical injections are an efficient and fast technique to lower calcium levels. When diet alone is not enough, these can drop your potassium levels to a safer place in a pinch. Albuterol Doctors may also administer albuterol alone or in addition to other treatments. Unfortunately, this does not work for everyone. Changing Medications If a certain medication is causing dangerous, unwanted side effects, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching.
How to Treat Arthritis
Generally, arthritis refers to the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. The term arthritis is actually used to cover over 100 conditions that impact the joints and the tissues around the joints of the body. When it comes to knowing how to treat arthritis, the options can differ between the various types, which we will explain.
Overall, arthritis can be uncomfortable. Pain and inflammation may come and go. Individuals with arthritis can also experience flare-ups at certain times. This condition can make it difficult to move or participate in regular activities. However, for the most common types of arthritis, there are treatment options available. In this article, we are going to explore the most common types of arthritis, their symptoms and their treatments.
4 Most Common Types of Arthritis
The four most common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), psoriatic arthritis and gout. In the following sections, we examine these arthritic conditions in more detail.
1. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis, RA, is technically an autoimmune condition. This type of arthritis happens when a person’s own immune system attacks healthy cells. This creates pain and inflammation at the joints, commonly impacting the hands, wrists and knees. However, RA can also impact various systems throughout the body, such as the skin, heart, lungs, eyes and blood vessels.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis typically include:
- Tender, warm and inflamed joints.
- Joint stiffness, fatigue.
- Loss of appetite.
In most cases, symptoms happen to both sides of the body. These symptoms may further vary in their severity and involve flare-up periods and remission periods.
RA Treatment Options
Treatment frequently involves medications to help reduce inflammation, as well as physical therapy and occupational therapy to help an individual continue to perform their daily tasks with as much ease as possible. Common medications include NSAIDs, steroids and DMARDs.
2. Osteoarthritis (OA)
Osteoarthritis, OA, is the most common type of arthritis. Often referred to as the wear-and-tear arthritis, OA happens as the cartilage at the end of the bones wears down over time. This usually happens to the knees, hips, hands and spine. While it is impossible to reverse the damage caused by osteoarthritis, there are various options to help manage it and reduce the associated symptoms.
Typically, OA develops gradually over time. Symptoms may include:
- Painful joints.
- Stiff joints.
- Tender joints.
- Decreased range of motion and flexibility.
- Grating sensations.
- Bone spurs.
Eventually, these symptoms become worse and worse, making it difficult to perform one’s regular activities and daily tasks.
OA Treatment Options
OA treatment usually involves a combination of methods. Depending on your circumstances, treatment may include a weight loss regime, increased physical activity and strengthening of the areas and muscles around affected joints. Treatment may also consist of medications, physical therapy and supportive devices. In severe phases of osteoarthritis, your doctor may recommend a hip or knee replacement.
3. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis happens in individuals who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that leads to patchy red and scaly skin. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is when the body’s own immune system attacks healthy cells, causing damage, pain and inflammation at the joints. This type of arthritis most commonly affects the toes, fingers, knees, hips and elbows.
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms
Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are also similar to rheumatoid arthritis, including:
- Swollen fingers and toes.
- Painful joints that are warm to touch.
- Lower back pain.
- Foot pain.
- Nail alterations.
- Eye inflammation.
Although rare, some individuals with psoriatic arthritis may further develop arthritis mutilans, which can destroy the small bones in the hands and feet.
Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment Options
Similar to other types of arthritis, there is no cure. Thus, treatment also focuses on controlling and managing the associated symptoms to maintain a person’s quality of life. Medications, such as NSAIDs, DMARDs and more may be used. Your doctor may further recommend steroidal injections or joint replacement surgery. Additionally, physical therapy and occupational therapy can help improve strength and flexibility and help you lead a relatively normal life.
Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs quite suddenly. A gout attack usually impacts one joint at a time, with some individuals claiming it feels as though the joint is on fire. Most often, it impacts the big toe, with flare-ups lasting a few days or weeks.
Common gout symptoms include:
- Intense joint pain (most common in the big toe, knees, ankles, elbow, fingers and wrist).
- Inflammation of the joint.
- Redness at the joint.
- Reduced range of motion.
Gout is frequently due to the build-up of urate crystals accumulating at the joint, leading to the above symptoms.
Gout Treatment Options
Usually, doctors prescribe medications to treat gout. These may include NSAIDs, colchicine, corticosteroids, or medications blocking uric acid production or helping with uric acid removal. For those who experience gout attacks, it is further recommended to drink plenty of healthy beverages and avoid alcohol and sweetened drinks. Avoiding foods with purines, such as red meat and organ meats, can also help prevent flare-ups. Lastly, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help strengthen your joints, reducing gout incidences.