Medicine Information

Potassium and The Dialysis Patient

Any dialysis patient who has had a brush with high potassium will know only too well how dangerous this can be. We are forever being told to watch our potassium intake, so I thought I would explore the reasons for this, and what practical steps we can take to limit the risks.

For your cells to function properly, it is important that you maintain the right level of potassium, unfortunately, for those of us with kidney disease, there is no way for our bodies to rid themselves of this potassium. As too high a level of potassium can cause muscle weakness, affect the heart rhythm and may even cause death, it is critical that we manage our intake carefully, in consultation with our dietician, clinical nurse, and renal specialist.

Some signs that your potassium may be too high might include, but are not limited to: nausea, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider, or take yourself off to the nearest hospital - post haste!

So it's all well and good to know that a high potassium level is dangerous, and what the symptoms are and what to do if we experience the symptoms, but what can we do to avoid this danger? Well I'm glad you asked!

Whilst some external factors affect the level of potassium in the blood of a dialysis patient, the one major thing that you can do is to manage your diet. Avoid foods that are high in potassium, and you stay out of the danger zone. It's as simple as that!

"So what are these foods I should be avoiding?" I hear you ask. Whilst this list provides some of the foods that may put you into the danger zone, it is by no means a comprehensive list. It should also be noted here that very few foods should be considered completely "off limits", just because you are on dialysis, doesn't mean that your life must stop and that you shouldn't be able to enjoy some of it's finer offerings.

The list: All meats, poultry and fish,. apricots (fresh more so than canned), avocado, banana, cantaloupe, honeydew, Kiwi Fruit, lima beans, milk, oranges and orange juice, potatoes, prunes, spinach, tomatoes, vegetables and vegetable juice .

Your next question should be: "But that seems like a lot of vegetables, what can I do to lower the potassium level in vegetables?" I'm glad you asked again! To lower the content in vegetables, simply cut the vegetables up into small pieces, and boil them well in a saucepan then drain them thoroughly.

Hopefully this has given you some idea of what symptoms to look out for, what foods to avoid, and generally how to live with a low potassium diet. For more information, talk to your dietician, clinical nurse, or doctor.

About the author: Stuart Drew is a 34 year old dialysis patient from Adelaide, Australia. He has a wilfe, a son (with another on the way), and two miniature schnauzers. He is a part time web geek, and runs the website - a news service for all issues relating to kidney disease and dialysis. He can be contacted at

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at

Harvard Gazette

Leveling the medical playing field
Harvard Gazette
Tate, who says one of her goals is to help diversify the face of medicine, credits her academic success to her mother, who continually preached the value of education to her eight children. Tate traces her interest in medicine to the day she asked her ...

M&S Takes Its Medicine
Archie Norman, the famed turnaround specialist who is now chairman of Marks & Spencer Group Plc, is hoping for a textbook turnaround of Britain's biggest clothing store by value. He is certainly reading from the classic first page: on Wednesday the ...

and more »

Hawaii News Now

With smiles and bandages, a street medicine team builds bonds to help the hardest to house
Hawaii News Now
On Tuesday morning in Chinatown, Dr. Christina Wang and other members of the CHOW Project's street medicine team stumbled across someone lying on the side of River Street that they hadn't seen in a while.

Healthcare IT News

Precision medicine paradox: Tech outpacing policy | Healthcare IT ...
Healthcare IT News
Aviva Debeer of IBM Watson Health said developers need to design experiences that engage patients in their own health at the HIMSS Precision Medicine ...
Ethical Considerations Must Take Precedence in Precision MedicineHealthTech Magazine

all 2 news articles »


7 Things Your Feet Reveal About Your Health, According To Eastern Medicine
When trying to determine the status of their health, most people don't turn to their feet for indication. However, in some types of medicine, they are a body part that can give you some insight into how your body is doing. When it comes to what your ...

Golden Gate Xpress

Dwindling medicine
Golden Gate Xpress
Golden Gate Xpress examines the edible regulations from the adult use cannabis market. What the effect is for medical patients seeking potent products. Therefore, a cannabis extract oil from Express Extracts is also featured as a possible alternative ...

and more »

KDLT News (blog)

New Migraine Medicine Coming to South Dakota
KDLT News (blog)
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — If you or someone you know suffers from migraines, there could relief coming soon. A new treatment was recently approved by the FDA for migraine prevention. The drug is said to reduce the pain, frequency and duration of the severe ...
FDA approves novel preventive treatment for

all 10 news articles »

International Atomic Energy Agency

How the IAEA Helps Maintain Health and Safety in Nuclear Medicine: Technical Meeting on Preventing Unintended ...
International Atomic Energy Agency
The exponential rise in nuclear medicine procedures performed around the world benefits an increasing number of patients, but it also intensifies the need to avoid any related accidental radiation exposure. Participants in an IAEA meeting last week ... (press release)

Spring Cleaning your medicine cabinet (press release)
(WNH) - As you are spring cleaning your home, one place you do not want to neglect is your medicine cabinet. Dr. Imran Ali with Bridgeport Hospital explains why it is so important to go through your medications and supplements. Is it safe to use a ...

Google News

home | site map | Dr. Thad Thomas
© 2006