Q: I have been diagnosed with too much potassium in my blood. Could you tell me the reason behind such a diagnosis? Please also list the foods that have high and low levels of potassium.
A:The normal potassium level is 3.5-5.0 mEq/L. Hyperkalemia is defined as a potassium level greater than 5.5 mEq/L. Ranges are as follows:
- Mild: 5.5 - 6.0 mEq/L
- Moderate: 6.1 - 7.0 meq/L
- Severe: 7.0 mEq/L and greater
Food items rich in potassium include fruits (banana, orange, mango, pomegranate, apricot), fruit juices, dry nuts, potatoes, beans, peas, legumes, tomatoes, pumpkin, green leafy vegetables, meats, milk and chocolates. Food items low in potassium are fruits such as apples, grapes, pears, pineapple, water melon, berries, peaches; vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, onions, capsicum, egg plant, cucumber, radish, mushroom, and rice/noodles.
Hyperkalemia may result from either:
- Excessive intake - rare, as kidneys excrete the excess amount
- Reduced excretion - due to kidney disease or drugs that hamper loss of potassium
- Shifting out of potassium from cells into blood (rare).
It is important to exclude factitious or pseudohyperkalemia which may result from improper blood collection (e.g., ischaemic blood draw from venipuncture technique), laboratory error, leukocytosis, and thrombocytosis). Please consult a nephrologist (kidney specialist) who can examine you and advise.