Hyperkalemia (High Potassium) is a leading cause of death among Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients, especially during the holidays due to (1) missing or shortening Dialysis Treatments and (2) Overindulging during the holiday festivities. Most patients should attempt to maintain their potassium levels within a safe 3.5 and 5.0 range. Yet, several patients emailed KidneyBuzz.com and relayed the fact that they had to be rushed to the Emergency Room because of a life-threatening high potassium complications the day after Christmas. Hence, try the following tips to avoid any complications altogether:
1.) Get It Checked Out: Signs of Hyperkalemia include irregular heart beat, slow or weak pulse (it may even be difficult to detect), nausea (but lots of things cause nausea), tiredness, fatigue, and/or weak muscles. Since these symptoms are often similar to typical side effects of Dialysis, it is best to go to the Emergency Room promptly if you are feeling severely ill, experiencing an abnormal heart rate or having difficulty breathing. As most know, excess potassium causes the heart muscle to decrease its activity, which may lead to a heart attack. Thus, while you may find that it is nothing serious after being admitted, you may also be notified that elevated levels of potassium are putting you at risk of a serious life-threatening complication, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
2.) Be On Alert: During the holidays and New Year's be extra careful to avoid high potassium fruits and vegetables such as avocado, dates, raisins, grapefruit, apricots, beans, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and spinach. Don't let your guard down. If you are unsure, ask what is in the dip or other foods served at gatherings which you attend.
3.) Avoid Salts, Substitutes, And Herbal Teas: Try avoiding salt substitutes. Certain salt substitutes are high in potassium and according to the National Kidney Foundation, "Most people with Chronic Kidney Disease should not use them." Also, herbal teas or supplements are not advised since they can raise potassium levels.
4.) Don't Take A Dialysis Holiday: Try your best to continue your scheduled treatments and not skip or miss treatments especially around the holidays since you may intake more fluids and foods outside of your dietary restrictions as a result of the holiday festivities. Following your treatment plan will help you keep your potassium levels in the healthy range.
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