The Psychological Effects Of Low Potassium On Chronic Kidney Disease And Dialysis Patients

Most Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetic patients know that potassium is a mineral common in most foods and necessary to help with muscle movement and keeping the nervous system healthy. However, the amount of potassium levels in the blood is controlled by the kidneys so that is why many Chronic Kidney Disease patients must limit their intake of potassium to avoid High Potassium also known as, Hyperkalemia which can be dangerous for the heart. Still, limiting potassium too heavily may also lead to severe physical and even psychological effects. 

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Found mostly in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products - when potassium builds up between Dialysis Treatments it can cause weakness, muscle cramps, tiredness, irregular heartbeat and even a Heart Attack. Yet, potassium is one of the most abundant minerals found in the body (70 percent of the positive ions in your cells) and when deficiencies occur, Chronic Kidney Disease patients who conduct Dialysis may suffer physical side effects such as: Excessive thirst, muscle weakness, constipation, heart palpitations, arrhythmias (heart rate disorder) and dizziness. 

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What's more surprising, however, is the fact that Low Potassium or, Hypokalemia, can affect a Dialysis patient psychologically. According to, "Mental lethargy, depression, mood swings, Psychosis (when a person has a break from reality and often involves seeing, hearing and believing things that aren't real), disorientation and confusion," are all mental disorders that may occur as a result of Low Potassium levels. 

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Therefore, Chronic Kidney Disease patients who conduct Dialysis should maintain their potassium levels in balance. Clearly, Dialysis patients do not want to experience the side effects of High Potassium OR Low Potassium so they should attempt to abide by their recommended daily potassium limits as much as possible. For those who conduct Peritoneal Dialysis, their limit is between 3,000 and 4,000 mg/day (with daily exchanges), while Hemodialysis patients' limits are lower at between 2,000 and 3,000 mg/day.  

Use the following insights to more closely monitor your potassium levels:

- Ask your Dietitian how much potassium intake they recommend for your specific health circumstances.
- Review your monthly Labs to more closely monitor your potassium levels.
- If your potassium is high, choose lower potassium fruits and vegetables such as apples berries, cauliflower and lettuce.
- Check your food labels. You may not find potassium content on all labels since the mineral is not mandated to be disclosed. Hence, order the guide, Fight Kidney Disease and Diabetes, to reference its Life Management Strategies which include a full list of recommended foods and their portion sizes.
- Meat is a good source of potassium so if you are running low on the mineral, talk with your Dietitian about adding meat to your diets and appropriate serving sizes. 

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