May also be called: Hyperpotassemia, High Potassium
Hyperkalemia is a condition that causes potassium levels in the blood to be higher than normal.
Potassium is essential to regulate how the heart beats and important for the function of other muscles and nerves. Excess potassium is usually removed by the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.
If kidneys are damaged or if they don't get rid of potassium the way they're supposed to, hyperkalemia is more likely to occur. Potassium supplements, alcohol, drug use, injuries, burns, and certain medications can also increase potassium levels.
Often, hyperkalemia has no symptoms. Symptoms that might appear include nausea, weakness, fatigue, paralysis, and an irregular heartbeat. Hyperkalemia is diagnosed by a blood test.
Hyperkalemia can be life threatening and should be treated promptly. In most cases, hyperkalemia can be treated effectively with medications.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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