Too much potassium may be life threatening for people with kidney disease. Ways to lower your potassium levels include taking diuretics, adjusting your diet, and avoiding certain herbal remedies.
Potassium is an essential mineral that helps maintain the proper function of your muscles and nerves.
The healthy range of blood potassium levels is 3.5–5.0 mmol/L.
Keep reading to learn more about the different ways to lower your potassium levels.
A healthcare professional may recommend a low potassium diet to help lower your potassium levels.
Foods to eat and avoid
Here are the National Kidney Foundation (NKF)‘s recommendations for foods with low potassium to eat, and some with high potassium to avoid.
|Low potassium levels||High potassium levels|
• dried figs
• green peas or beans
• water chestnuts
• Brussels sprouts
• black beans
• winter squash
|Other foods||• white rice, pastas, and breads|
• herbs and spices
• milk and dairy products
• salt substitutes
• orange juice
• legumes, like black beans
Some good sources of protein to include in your low potassium diet
Preparing your food
How you prepare your food is also important to maintaining low blood potassium levels.
According to the NKF, you should leach any high-potassium vegetables you want to eat. This technique may help draw potassium out of foods.
Here are the NFK‘s recommendations for leaching your food:
- Peel your vegetables and soak them in cold water.
- Cut vegetables into pieces 1/8 inch thick.
- Rinse them in warm water.
- Soak in unsalted water for 2 hours using 10 times the amount of water as vegetables.
- Rinse under warm water again.
- Cook the vegetables using five times the amount of water as vegetables.
The two most common types of medications used to help treat hyperkalemia are diuretics and potassium binders.
Diuretics are prescribed to help your kidneys increase the amount of fluid they expel through urination.
They’re a common part of treatment for both acute and chronic hyperkalemia.
However, they may cause dehydration and other side effects,
Speak with a healthcare professional before using diuretics.
Potassium binders are medications that bind to extra potassium in your body. This is then expelled from your body through bowel movements.
A doctor may prescribe several types of potassium binders, such as:
- sodium polystyrene sulfonate (SPS)
- calcium polystyrene sulfonate (CPS)
- patiromer (Veltassa)
- sodium zirconium cyclosilicate (Lokelma)
Speak with a doctor about which medications are best to help lower your potassium levels.
It’s best to avoid herbal remedies or supplements if you have hyperkalemia. They may contain ingredients that could increase potassium levels in the body. These ingredients include:
- Bufo, Chan’su, or Senso
- hawthorn berries
- lily of the valley
- noni juice
- Siberian ginseng
Speak with a doctor before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) supplements.
Hyperkalemia can affect anyone and may occur in up to 3% of people in the United States.
Approximately 1 in 2 people with predialysis CKD will develop hyperkalemia, according to the NKF. The kidneys are responsible for removing excess potassium from the body. However, with CKD, impaired kidney function makes it harder for the kidneys to carry out this role.
• Addison’s disease
|• renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors|
• nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
• calcineurin inhibitors for immunosuppressive therapy
• potassium-sparing diuretics, like spironolactone and eplerenone
Speak with a healthcare professional about any medications and supplements you take. This can help them determine the cause of your hyperkalemia and adjust your treatment plan if a medication is causing your condition.
Your treatment plan for hyperkalemia may vary depending on whether you’re dealing with an acute episode of hyperkalemia or managing chronic hyperkalemia.
Acute hyperkalemia treatment
Acute hyperkalemia develops over the course of a few hours or a day. It’s a medical emergency that requires treatment in a hospital.
At the hospital, doctors and nurses will run tests, including an electrocardiogram to monitor your heart.
Treatment will depend on the cause and severity of your hyperkalemia. This may include removing potassium from your blood with potassium binders, diuretics, or in severe cases, dialysis.
If changes on the electrocardiogram indicate hyperkalemia, intravenous calcium may also be used to
Treatment may also include using a combination of intravenous insulin, plus glucose, albuterol, and sodium bicarbonate. This helps move potassium from your blood into your cells.
Chronic hyperkalemia treatment
Chronic hyperkalemia, which develops over the course of weeks or months, can usually be managed outside of the hospital.
Treatment usually involves changes to your diet and medications, starting a potassium-lowering medication, or taking a diuretic.
You and a healthcare professional will also carefully monitor your potassium levels.
How can I lower my potassium level naturally?
Some natural ways to help you lower your potassium levels include:
- eating low-potassium foods
- leaching vegetables before eating
- avoiding salt substitutes
- avoiding herbal remedies and supplements
How do I flush out too much potassium?
Diuretics are prescription medications that help flush out excess potassium from your body. Speak with a healthcare professional before using these, as they may have side effects.
What foods decrease potassium?
No foods intentionally decrease your blood potassium levels. However, some foods that are low in potassium can help you manage your condition. Some of these include:
- fruits, such as berries, apples, and grapes
- vegetables, such as asparagus, cabbage, and carrots
- white rice, pastas, and breads
- lean protein sources, such as eggs and tuna
Will drinking more water help lower potassium levels?
Hyperkalemia is a condition where your blood potassium levels are higher than 5.0 mmol/L.
Some ways to lower your potassium levels include dietary and lifestyle changes, and taking certain medications.
Speak with a healthcare professional to find the right treatment for you. This can help you avoid an acute episode or a chronic situation.