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.
Stage 3 Kidney Disease Explained
In this article we look at the most common symptoms of kidney disease. If you've ever wondered, “what is stage 3 kidney disease?” then you are in the right place.
Do you think you or someone you know might have it? This article will explain what kidney disease is, the causes and symptoms, and we will go over how someone can get a proper diagnosis and begin treatment.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
The early stages of kidney disease may not have any noticeable signs or symptoms. However, as kidney disease progresses, more symptoms are evident. Usually, when symptoms of kidney disease appear, there is a significant loss of kidney function.
Some of the symptoms are nonspecific or can be a result of other diseases, but other risk factors can lead to a suspicion of kidney disease. Symptoms of late stage kidney disease may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weight loss
- Itching or numbness of the skin
- Fatigue, or feeling tired most of the time
- Changes in behavior or sensorium
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Pallor or anemia (low hemoglobin count)
- Decreased amount of urination
- Sleep problems
- Swelling of extremities or generalized swelling
Understanding Kidney Disease
Put simply, kidney disease occurs when there is damage to the kidneys. The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that are responsible for the filtration of blood and remove waste through the production and excretion of urine.
Kidney disease can be acute or chronic. Acute kidney disease usually lasts days or weeks, while chronic disease lasts months to years. As a person gets older, the chances of getting kidney disease increases, especially if that person has any risk factors, which may include:
- Comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease
- Family history of kidney disease
- Congenital disorders or abnormal structure of the kidney
- Old age
It is important to detect kidney disease early so that appropriate treatment can begin. This will help prevent permanent damage to your kidneys and help avoid life-changing treatment, such as dialysis.
What Causes Kidney Disease?
There are many different causes of kidney disease. Some are genetic, while others are acquired or due to a person’s environment and lifestyle.
The most common causes of kidney disease include diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes causes kidney disease by damaging the filters of the kidney, which leads to the leaking of important substances, such as a protein that is needed by the body.
Hypertension causes kidney disease by damaging the blood vessels of the kidney. These injuries make the kidney do a poor job of filtering wastes and in severe cases leads to the buildup of harmful toxins in the body.
Other causes of kidney disease may be infections, toxins, drugs, or congenital or autoimmune diseases. Examples of other causes of kidney disease may include:
- Autoimmune diseases, such as Goodpasture’s disease or nephritis from lupus
- Genetic conditions, such as Alport syndrome or polycystic kidney disease
- Infections and their complications, such as pyelonephritis or glomerulonephritis
- Drugs or toxins, such as lead poisoning
- Renal artery stenosis
Stages of Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is when there is an irreversible injury to the kidneys over a long period. It has five different stages which represent the condition and function of the kidney.
Stage 1 kidney disease occurs when the disease has just begun, and stage 5 indicates complete kidney failure. As the disease progresses, your kidneys have a harder time filtering your blood, and if it progresses to stage 5, they stop functioning altogether.
According to the American Kidney Fund, stage 3 kidney disease occurs when a patient’s estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is between 30 and 59. There is moderate kidney damage, but they are still able to function.
Symptoms do not usually show in stage 3 kidney disease. However, if you experience any swelling in the hands or feet, back pain, or frequent urination, it could be an indication. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor if you feel like something is off.
Stage 3 Kidney Disease Diagnosis
During stage 3, the damage to the kidneys is moderate and the loss of kidney function is evident. As mentioned above, a patient’s eGFR values are found to be in the range of 30 to 59.
Other laboratory examinations can be used to determine kidney disease as well. These include checking a protein called albumin in your urine, which is not usually present in patients with normal kidneys. Albumin is normally filtered and stays in the blood, but in patients with kidney disease, due to the damage to the kidneys, it leaks out. Checking the albumin not only helps determine if kidney disease is present, but also evaluates response to treatment.
A patient’s kidneys can also be evaluated through imaging, especially if the cause may be genetic.
Is it the end of the world if you are diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease? Despite having a noticeable change in kidney function, there are still things that can be done.
The goal for patients with this stage of kidney disease is to avoid further progression. Kidney disease will worsen over time if nothing is done to prevent its progression. This is important because kidney damage can be permanent.
Treatment Options for Kidney Disease
It is important to identify kidney disease because early detection can prevent progression to irreversible kidney damage. Stage 3 kidney disease can usually be cured without dialysis or a kidney transplant.
There are medical and non-medical options for kidney disease, but the goals of therapy are to treat the underlying cause and to prevent further progression of kidney disease. Medications to control hypertension and diabetes are wide and varied. Other medications to treat other causes of kidney disease are also available (for example, antibiotics for infection).
Further medications can be given for complications of kidney disease (iron supplements for patients with anemia, calcium supplements, and medications to induce urination for those with decreased urine). A consult with a nephrologist who specializes in kidney disease is also important.
Non-medical options include changing diet and lifestyle. These include decreasing salty food intake, increasing physical activity, stopping smoking, and stay within the ideal body weight. These changes are important for patients with Stage 3 kidney disease because they will help halt progression.