Potassium is the mineral of choice for this week’s post for a number of reasons, and it’s a mineral that people with kidney issues must make certain to pay attention to.
The Function of Potassium in the Body
First, let’s explore what potassium does in the body. This mineral is frequently described as an “electrolyte.” Electrolytes are electrically charged particles, called ions, which our cells use to preserve voltage throughout our cell membranes and carry electrical impulses, such as nerve impulses, to other cells. (Bet you didn’t believe you had all this electrical activity in your body, did you?) A few of the primary electrolytes in our bodies, besides potassium, are salt, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Your kidneys help control the amount of electrolytes in the body.
Potassium’s job is to assist nerve conduction, help regulate your heart beat, and assist your muscles agreement. It likewise works to preserve appropriate fluid balance in between your cells and body fluids. The body is a fine-tuned maker because, as long as it’s healthy and functioning effectively, things will work as they should. This implies that, as long as your kidneys are developing to par, they’ll control the amount of potassium that your body needs. However, people with diabetes who have kidney disease have to be specifically cautious of their potassium intake, as levels can get expensive in the body when the kidneys don’t work as they should. Excessive potassium is just as unsafe as too little.
Your doctor can measure the amount of potassium in your blood with a simple blood test. A normal, or “safe” level of potassium is in between 3.7 and 5.2 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Levels listed below or above this variety are a cause for concern.
Low potassium levels (hypokalemia) may be because of something as relatively simple as dehydration from excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea, or to something more serious such as an adrenal gland issue, cystic fibrosis, or severe burns, for instance. Low levels can likewise arise from taking diuretics or from malnutrition.
High potassium levels (hyperkalemia) typically arise from kidney damage. Kidney damage is normally due to improperly controlled diabetes, and is thought about a major issue of diabetes (it’s typically referred to as diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy). High potassium can likewise take place if someone has actually had diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a severe metabolic condition more typically seen in individuals with Type 1 diabetes. Cardiac arrest, injuries, infections, overuse of potassium supplements, and use of ACE inhibitor drugs may also cause high potassium levels. Too much potassium, by the way, can cause weakness, paralysis, irregular heartbeat, and even a heart attack.
If you have diabetic kidney disease and your potassium levels are high (above 5.2), your health-care supplier will likely suggest you reduce how much potassium you get in your diet. Foods high in potassium consist of bananas, cantaloupe, potatoes, tomatoes, and vegetables, for example. It’s not that you can no longer eat these foods, however you’ll need to enjoy your parts of them and not eat them too often. In addition, you shouldn’t use salt substitutes or take potassium supplements unless otherwise encouraged by your health-care provider. Meeting a dietitian is exceptionally valuable, as she or he can assist you establish a low-potassium meal strategy and provide you with helpful pointers to make things easier. If your potassium level is extremely high (over 6.0), your physician might advise a medicine, such as sodium polystyrene sulfonate (brand names Kayexalate and Kionex), which assists eliminate potassium from the body. Diuretics can also help lower potassium levels.
Speak with your health-care service provider if you have any issues about your blood potassium level or the health of your kidneys in basic. Do the best you can to keep your HbA1c level below 7%, and be sure to get your microalbumin level (a test for urine protein that spots kidney damage) inspected every year. Diabetic kidney problems can be prevented or slowed if captured early on.