Your body needs potassium in order for your nerves and muscles to function well. But in the case of potassium, more isn’t better.
If you have hyperkalemia, it means you have high levels of potassium in your blood.
Read on to explore how hyperkalemia can cause muscle fatigue and what you can do to restore your energy levels.
Your body needs potassium for proper nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
Muscle fatigue may be described as an overwhelming feeling of tiredness, exhaustion, or lack of energy. Your arms and legs simply feel weak.
That can make it hard to perform daily activities that previously weren’t difficult. You might also experience muscle soreness, cramping, or pain from minor physical exertion.
There’s no specific treatment for muscle fatigue, but you can do certain things to increase your energy levels when you have hyperkalemia.
1. Take prescribed medications
Hyperkalemia is a serious condition that, left untreated, can lead to life threatening complications.
People with certain health conditions have an increased risk of developing hyperkalemia. These conditions include:
- kidney disease
- heart failure
Take all your medications as prescribed, whether they’re for hyperkalemia or other health conditions.
If you’re experiencing side effects or think the medications aren’t working, continue to take them until you can consult with your doctor.
2. Stick to a low potassium diet
Processing potassium in the body and getting rid of any excess is a job for your kidneys.
When all is well, you don’t have to worry about getting too much potassium in your diet. But if your kidney function declines, your doctor might recommend switching to a low potassium diet.
Foods that are high in potassium are those that contain more than 250 milligrams of potassium in a half-cup serving. Some of these foods include:
- fresh fruits like bananas, fruit juices like orange juice, or dried fruits like apricots
- vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and spinach
- legumes like lentils, kidney beans, and soybeans
- low or nonfat dairy, including milk and milk products
Some foods that have potassium are also good sources of protein, which is essential to muscle health. These foods include:
So, when it comes to a low potassium diet, it’s vital to make sure you’re getting the right balance of all essential nutrients for your muscles and your overall health.
It’s also important not to skip meals or overeat.
Consult with your doctor before starting a low potassium diet, especially if you have kidney disease, heart failure, or diabetes.
You may want to ask for a referral to a dietician. A few sessions can get you started in the right direction.
3. Tread carefully with dietary supplements
A number of natural products may help improve muscle fatigue or boost energy, according to a
- fish oil
- Rhodiola rosea
- vitamin B12
Always check with your doctor before adding dietary supplements to your regimen. Natural products may interact with medications or make existing health problems worse.
Multivitamin products may also contain potassium, so be sure to examine the label carefully.
4. Watch out for salt substitutes
If you have kidney disease or take certain prescription medications, your doctor may have recommended cutting down on salt.
Some salt substitutes contain potassium, though, so choose carefully. Ask your doctor to recommend a salt substitute or work with a dietician to lower your salt intake.
5. Get regular exercise
Exercise can help combat muscle fatigue, but it’s important to speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Muscles are loaded with potassium. When you exercise, potassium from your muscles enters your bloodstream, resulting in a dramatic rise in blood potassium.
In healthy individuals, blood potassium levels normalize within minutes after exercising and is no cause for concern. But for people with hyperkalemia or heart disease, it can trigger a life threatening heart issue called exercise-induced arrhythmia.
Being in good physical shape can help. But until you get the green light from your doctor, avoid strenuous exercise.
Instead, stick with mild to moderate daily activities such as:
- practicing yoga or tai chi
While you should be well hydrated when you exercise, people with kidney disease may be instructed to limit fluid intake.
6. Take a break
Listen to your body. When you feel fatigued, take a 15-minute relaxation break. If your leg muscles are tired, elevate them.
Even taking a brief daytime nap is fine if it doesn’t interfere with nighttime sleep.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
Results found that good sleep quality is associated with greater muscle strength. Not getting enough sleep and poor sleep quality were associated with an increased risk of muscle mass reduction.
8. Work in partnership with your doctor
If you’ve experienced hyperkalemia or have a condition that increases your risk of hyperkalemia — such as kidney disease, heart failure, or diabetes — regular doctor visits are essential.
Your doctor can keep tabs on your entire health profile and work with you to make decisions about your individual health.
Symptoms like muscle fatigue may have to do with hyperkalemia, but they can also be due to something else. Keep your doctor updated on new or worsening symptoms.
Seek emergency medical attention if you experience:
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
These symptoms may be a sign of sudden or severe hyperkalemia that requires immediate medical care.
Muscle fatigue is a symptom of hyperkalemia that can make it difficult to keep up with your daily activities.
If you have hyperkalemia or you’re at risk of developing high potassium, speak with your doctor about muscle fatigue. Together, you can develop a plan to boost your energy levels.