Our body constantly requires an adequate supply of different minerals for performing various functions. Calcium, sodium, and potassium are needed in large amounts by the body and are known as macrominerals. Potassium is necessary for the proper functioning of all cells, tissues, and organs. Some of its main functions include maintaining fluid balance, regulation of heartbeat, contraction of muscles, maintaining pH balance, upholding the electrical rhythm of the body, etc.
We get the required amount of potassium by including potassium-rich fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. But, consuming this mineral in high amounts can have adverse effects on the body. Generally, this condition does not arise if your diet is a well-balanced one. People taking supplements for the same intentionally for some medical reasons may experience an overdose. Older people are at a higher risk for having too much potassium in their blood. This is because, their kidneys become less efficient due to aging, which results in high potassium levels in blood. In this article, you will come to know about the side effects of excess potassium.
Although there is no recommended daily potassium consumption level, anything above 5 mEq/L is considered as high. This indirectly affects the functioning of the heart. It also hampers the functioning of other organs causing several problems.
- Muscle Weakness
- Mild Paralysis
- Disrupted heartbeat
- Problem in breathing
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the extremities
The condition becomes severe if ignored and can lead to serious problems. Hence, it is advisable to check your potassium levels at regular intervals, especially if you have a kidney problem. If proper measures are not taken and the level increases further, it can lead to other health issues, which can be difficult to cure. Some of them are as follows.
- A condition, known as hyperkalemia, arises when the blood potassium level rises above 5.5 mEq/L. It is a life-threatening condition. Reduced kidney function, improper protein metabolism, and infections are some of the causes of hyperkalemia. Diabetes may also be one of the causes leading to hyperkalemia. Certain medications, like potassium sparing diuretics and potassium supplements may also lead to this condition.
- Potassium is considered as an electrolyte, which helps in sending messages to the brain through nerves. Variation in the level can affect the nervous system by sending inappropriate signals. This can affect the performance of speech, mobility, bowel functions, and also lead to paralysis.
- High levels in the blood have adverse effects on the muscle system as well. They can cause fatigue and weakness in muscles, affect the skeletal muscles, result in hyperkalemia.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea are also some of the effects.
- Rashes on skin and other infections may also follow.
Too much potassium in the body is serious as compared to its deficiency, as the latter can be managed by supplements. But, it is difficult to lower the level easily. Therefore, the right amount should be included in the diet. Do not go for supplements unless prescribed by your doctor. Have your blood potassium levels checked over a certain period of time.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.