Hyperkalemia is a condition that is characterized by high amounts of potassium in the blood, and typically leads to kidney dysfunction. Common hyperkalemia treatments include limiting potassium intake, adding certain medications, receiving injections, and undergoing dialysis. Despite its various treatments, however, the best way to cure hyperkalemia is to the identify and eliminate its root cause.
One of the most common forms of treatment for hyperkalemia involves limiting the intake of potassium in patients who are suffering from the condition. For patients who are suffering from only mild cases of hyperkalemia, limiting potassium intake typically is enough to treat the condition. In order to decrease potassium intake to as low a level as possible, it is important not only to avoid foods that are rich in potassium, but also to closely examine medications and supplements that may be rich in potassium. Common examples of medications that are high in potassium include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, and some diuretics.
While certain medications must be avoided in order to achieve the best results with hyperkalemia treatment, other medications must be administered. Typically, epinephrine and albuterol are prescribed for individuals suffering from hyperkalemia due to their ability to lead potassium from the blood back into specific cells of the body. They must be prescribed in the correct dose in order to achieve the desired effects.
In cases where the hyperkalemia is more severe, a more aggressive hyperkalemia treatment method must be followed. Often in these cases, patients must receive an injection composed of insulin and glucose in order to shift potassium that has entered the blood of the body back into specific cells. In addition, a second injection is often given to promote the excretion of the excessive potassium through urine. Finally, a calcium injection is sometimes given to protect the heart and other muscles from the effects of potassium.
Even more serious cases of hyperkalemia may require dialysis. This form of hyperkalemia treatment is often only used in the most severe cases, and should be only attempted as a last resort. Once a patient starts dialysis, there is typically no going off of the treatment. Therefore, it should be avoided for as long as possible.
Finally, one essential step in hyperkalemia treatment is determining the cause of the hyperkalemia. As with most other life-threatening conditions, in order to prevent the condition from recurring, it is important to treat and prevent the underlying cause. Often, when the primary condition is identified and cured, the instances and severity of hyperkalemia will decrease significantly.