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.
Neuromyelitis Optica Symptoms and Diagnosis Process
Neuromyelitis optica or Devic’s disease is rare, affecting 4,000 people in the U.S. and about a quarter of a million people worldwide.
Considering its rarity, not many people are educated enough to understand what this disease entails. However, this detail shows precisely why we educate people on it.
The symptoms of Devic’s disease are quite similar to various common symptoms people experience. Knowing about neuromyelitis optica will help you prevent any further damage if it can be diagnosed early on.
What is Neuromyelitis Optica?
Also known as NMO, neuromyelitis optica is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues surrounding the spinal cord and optical nerves. It also affects the brain in some cases.
Devic’s disease is not a hereditary condition. However, if you have a family history of autoimmune disorders, you will be more likely to develop neuromyelitis optica. There is also no age limit to the condition, and in most cases, NMO strikes during the patient’s childhood years. But, it is strangely more common in patients in their 40s, perhaps because of a decline in their immune system response.
NMO targets a substance known as myelin, which creates insulation around the optic nerves and spinal cord. Unfortunately, we do not know what triggers this condition. Research is scant because of the condition’s rarity. However, many think NMO appears after the patient suffers from an infection that triggers the autoimmune disease.
In many cases, patients with neuromyelitis optica are misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), but the symptoms for NMO differ from that of MS.
Types of Neuromyelitis Optica
Before learning about the symptoms of NMO, let’s discuss the types.
There are two types of neuromyelitis optica that people experience:
- Relapsing NMO
- Monophasic NMO
This is a more common condition.
Patients with relapsing NMO experience the initial attack, which inflames the spinal cord and optic nerve. This is then followed by a series of attacks that span over several years.
Damage from relapsing NMO is permanent, and more often, people do not recover fully from this attack on the nerve. As a result, patients experience disability and require additional help and assistance. Relapsing NMO affects females more than males.
This type of NMO affects both genders equally.
Monophasic NMO causes a limited number of attacks to occur more closely together over days or weeks. There is no long-term threat that the body may experience more attacks in the future.
Because of this limited period, most patients recover more quickly from the effects, but monophasic NMO is rare, so most patients should be wary of any future attacks if they experience an initial episode.
Symptoms of NMO
We know that NMO damages the spinal cord and optic nerve.
Inflammation of the spinal cord occurs because of a process known as transverse myelitis. So, a patient may experience the following symptoms during a singular attack:
- Heavy and weak limbs, sometimes causing total paralysis.
- Problems with urination, changes in urination patterns, urinary incontinence, frequent urination and difficulty urinating.
- Altered sensitivity, such as numbness, tingling, feeling of coldness or burning and sensitivity to temperature.
Alongside these symptoms, the patients may also experience symptoms related to optic nerve inflammation, called optic neuritis. These symptoms include:
- Swelling of the optic disc.
- Lowered sensitivity to color.
- Temporary loss of eyesight with a risk of permanent loss of vision in at least one eye.
- Eye pain that is affected by movement, getting more severe after a week, then resolving within a few days.
A person who experiences a singular mild attack of NMO can recover from these symptoms, even completely, and have no relapses ever. But the chances of that are low. Many will experience multiple attacks, leading to lifelong disability.
Diagnosing Neuromyelitis Optica
As stated before, diagnosing NMO can be difficult because its symptoms are similar to that of other conditions and diseases, including:
- Viral infections.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis (ADEM).
- Mixed connective tissue disorder (MCTD).
- Paraneoplastic optic neuropathy (inflammation linked to cancer).
To separate these results from NMO, professional physicians may recommend the following tests to get a confirmed diagnosis:
- Blood test, specifically to check for NMO IgG, an antibody.
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture to check NMO-specific proteins and levels of white blood cell.
- MRI to check for lesions and damage to the brain.
There is no treatment for NMO. However, you will be able to get some treatment for the related symptoms.
Taking your present condition into account, your doctor may prescribe oral steroids. If that does not present any positive results, they may switch you to plasma exchange therapy.
If your immune system responds aggressively, your doctor may suggest an immune suppressant. However, such medications can have plenty of side effects, so the patient must be prepared.
NMO can be debilitating for everyone, whether they experience the condition in childhood or adulthood.
The best way to treat this condition is by learning about it, especially if you are susceptible. Knowing that you are vulnerable to such disorders now will not only help you prepare for the future, but it may also prevent your symptoms from getting worse.