Your body needs potassium in order to maintain a regular heartbeat and balance your fluids, and to ensure correct muscle and nerve function. The kidneys help keep blood potassium levels within the normal range and the mineral potassium can be found in several different types of food. For those with chronic kidney disease or take certain drugs, the consumption of potassium-rich food should be cut to achieve optimum potassium levels. Your doctor can advise on how to achieve this. Also, you need to take some caring options at home. Read on to find more!
How to Lower Potassium
Usually, the potassium levels fall into 4 groups, including:
- Low levels: under 3.5 mg/dL
- Safe levels: 3.5-5.5 mg/dL
- High and unsafe levels: 5.6-6.0 mg/dL
- Very high and dangerous levels: 6.0 mg/dL or more
Excess potassium can be damaging, particularly in older patients and those suffering from kidney disease. With age, the kidneys become less efficient at removing potassium from the blood, which affects fluid balance within the body. Thus, prior to taking any potassium supplements, you should speak with a healthcare professional. And here are some tested options to lower potassium.
1. Adjust Your Diet
- Avoid high potassium foods: Know your daily potassium allowance and take this into account when planning your diet. You'll need to cut back on or cut out the following high potassium foods:
Fruits: Oranges/orange juice, papaya, bananas, avocado, honeydew/cantaloupe melons, kiwi, mangos, and dried fruit.
Vegetables: Pumpkin, potatoes and potato products (including chips/French fries), cooked spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, vegetable juices, winter squash, sweet potato, and dried peas and beans
Dairy: Milk, yogurt, ice cream
Others: Salt substitutes, nuts, seeds, chocolate, molasses
- Low potassium foods are required when you kick out those high potassium ones. If you are just trying to seek for how to lower potassium, the chart below can be your reference with serving just some sample food choices.
Fruits: Grapes, lemon, apple, peaches, canned pears, plums, pineapple, watermelon, berries, fruit cocktail
Vegetables: Cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, summer squash, sweet pepper, cabbage, carrot
Dairy: Unenriched rice milk, sorbet, popsicles, non-dairy creamers, and non-diary whipped topping
Others: Hard candies, plain donuts, unsalted popcorn, unsalted pretzels, jelly beans
- Mind the portion: You should also control your portion sizes to maintain healthy potassium levels. Just don't compensate by over-consuming low-potassium foods. Even though these have reduced potassium, a large intake may still sizably increase your blood potassium levels.
- Balance your diet: Long-term low-potassium diets may predispose people to nutritional deficiencies; therefore you need to ensure you have a balanced diet. It may be difficult if you are already following a special diet, either through choice or for medical reasons. Speak to a registered dietitian, who will be able to give you individualized advice on how to lower potassium.
2. Learn to Leach
By leaching carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, squash, and beets, you can decrease the amount of potassium within these leaching steps:
- Peel the vegetables (if needed) and soak them in cold water in order to prevent darkening.
- Slice each vegetable at about 1/8 inch thickness.
- Wash it under warm water for a few seconds.
- Soak it in warm water for at least 2 hours. The ratio of vegetable to water should be 1:10. Remember to change water each 4 hours if you want soaking longer time.
- Run the vegetable again under warm water for a few seconds.
- Cook the vegetable using water. And ratio of vegetable to water should be 1:5.
3. Deal With Medical Conditions
When it comes to how to lower potassium, you need to first get treated for certain medical conditions if you have. For people who suffer from kidney failure or diabetes, natural solutions may not enough. You need to seek for advice from the profession.
In addition, some drugs can cause elevated potassium levels. For instance, beta-blockers, a type of blood pressure medicine, can disturb the body's ability to channel potassium to where it is needed. Speak to your doctor if you think the drugs you are taking are having this effect and if you will need further drugs to control your potassium levels.
4. Certain Medications Can Help
Medications can be applied to fix the issue of how to lower potassium. If your blood results reveal that you have high potassium (hyperkalemia), you may be prescribed certain drugs, including:
- Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (e.g. Kayexalate) – This drug, which can be administered orally or through an enema, reduces the levels of blood potassium through binding with potassium in the stomach or intestines. Some laxatives may be prescribed meanwhile to deal with side effect of constipation.
- Loop diuretics (water pills) – These increase the amount of fluid that you urinate, which also contains potassium. Thus, blood potassium levels are lowered.
- Bicarbonate/Calcium/Insulin – Often used intravenously, these drugs force potassium from the blood into body cells. They are usually administered with other potassium-reducing medications.
- Hemodialysis – If you suffer from kidney failure and have seriously increased blood potassium, you may need to undergo dialysis treatment.
5. Emergency Treatment
If you have very high blood potassium levels, or are exhibiting any serious signs, such as ECG changes, you need to note some emergency treatment, including:
- Intravenous calcium in order to diminish the effects of high potassium on your heart and muscles
- Intravenous insulin and glucose to aid the reduction of potassium for long enough to treat the underlying cause of high potassium
- Kidney dialysis (if you have poor kidney function)
- Sodium bicarbonate (if high potassium levels are due to acidosis)
- Drugs to aid the removal of potassium from the intestines, so it can't be absorbed into the blood. Some water pills (diuretics) can also be applied.