How to check potassium levels at home?
Potassium levels can be check using a blood or urine test or urine test. Neither of these tests usually performed at home in the past. However, due to growing medical advancements, there are some options that allow people to either test their potassium level at home or take the sample at home and deliver it to the lab to receive a much faster lab result.
Why potassium is important?
Several of the foods you eat contain potassium. It keeps the rhythm of your heart and the functioning of your muscles. Your kidneys are responsible for ensuring that you have the right level of potassium in your body. However, if your kidneys are not functioning properly, you have to limit certain foods that can increase the potassium level in your blood. If your potassium level is high, you may feel weak, numb, and tingly. Too much potassium can cause irregular heartbeats or heart attacks. There is a limit on how much potassium you can consume each day.
How much potassium should an average healthy person consume each day?
Typical American diets contain 3500 to 4500 milligrams of potassium per day. People on a potassium-restricted diet consume about 2000 milligrams per day. Depending on your health, your physician or dietitian will advise you on the level of the restriction you need. To prevent complications related to kidney disease, a kidney dietitian will help you modify your diet.
Do I need a potassium level test?
A test is recommended if you:
- Consume a high-protein diet.
- suffer from kidney disease in your family.
- are diabetic or have impaired glucose tolerance.
- are suffering from kidney disease.
- have kidney stones.
- you suffered an acute injury.
- your blood pressure is high.
- Regularly take anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen).
- frequently suffer from urinary tract infections.
Read more for high potassium foods.
Symptoms of high potassium levels in your blood
High potassium levels are usually not accompanied by any symptoms. If any symptoms do appear, they are usually mild and non-specific.
- Feelings such as numbness, tingling, nausea, or weakness may occur. High potassium is usually a mild condition that develops gradually over weeks or months. It may recur.
- High potassium can cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting, especially if it happens suddenly. Emergency medical attention is necessary for this condition.
Checking potassium levels at home
Wondering, how to check potassium levels at home? Well, there aren’t many alternatives. Kidney disease, heart disease, or treatments for high blood pressure may cause a high level of potassium in your body . As severe high or indeed low potassium can lead to heart rhythm abnormalities and sudden death, it is extremely important to maintain potassium levels within defined limits. Outside of hospital or centralized lab settings, there is no medically approved accurate test for blood potassium except the Kallium test kit. This test might be available in the consumer market in the coming days and will give the opportunity to check potassium levels at home.
Another option is collecting urine or blood samples at home and then getting them tested in the laboratory. However, this option involves you going to the test lab and submitting your sample. The lab can then dispatch the results to your home.
Preparing yourself for the potassium level test
- Prior to the test, your doctor may ask you not to eat or drink anything for at least six hours.
- You will probably be asked about your medical history and any medicines you are taking. They might advise you not to take certain medicines before the test because they could affect the results.
- During a test, a lab tech sticks a needle into a vein in order to take a blood sample. Some veins are hard to find, so they will tighten an elastic band around your upper arm and have you open and close your hand into a fist. Blood samples are collected using a tube attached to the needle.
The process usually takes under five minutes. There are few risks associated with blood tests. Any needle stick can cause bleeding, bruising, infection, or make you feel faint. Be sure to follow the directions your doctor gives you, such as applying pressure to the area and keeping it clean.
To avoid frequent visits to the lab, the best practice is to control the potassium levels in your body through passive treatments.
How to control potassium levels?
Follow a low-potassium diet
If necessary, follow a low-potassium diet. In some people, especially those with kidney disease, eating too much potassium-rich food can cause problems. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you determine how much potassium is right for you. It is possible to eat too much, as well as to eat too little. Everyone needs different amounts of food.
Stay away from salt substitutes.
Some salt substitutes are high in potassium. People with diabetes should avoid salt substitutes.
People with diabetes should avoid herbal remedies.
The ingredients in them may cause potassium levels to rise. Therefore, people with kidney disease shouldn’t take herbal supplements. You should ask your healthcare provider about them.
Potassium binders or water pills
Your healthcare provider may recommend taking potassium binders or water pills. Some people may also need medication to help remove extra potassium from their bodies and prevent it from returning. Among the options are:
- You can rid your body of excess potassium by taking water pills (diuretics). These pills cause the kidneys to produce more urine. Urine takes out the potassium from your body.
- Potassium binders often come in powder form. They are taken with food and mixed with water. Upon swallowing, they “bind” to extra potassium in the bowels and eliminate it. Doctor instructions must be followed for their consumption. Taking potassium binders at the same time as other drugs may interfere with their action. Children should not take potassium binders.
How do you check your potassium level?
There are two types of tests available in labs, one involves giving the blood sample and the other one is an electrolyte test on your urine. Both of these tests can only be carried out in the lab. In the future, we might have personal test kits for checking potassium levels at home just like we have for blood sugar.
How do you feel when your potassium is high?
There are no hard and fast symptoms for high potassium levels in your body. However, you may have mild and non-specific symptoms like numbness, tingling, nausea, or weakness.
How do I know if I am potassium deficient?
If your blood potassium level is below 3.5 mmol/L, you have low potassium or potassium deficiency. Medical community call it as hypokalemia.
Weakness and fatigue, cramps and aches, tingles and numbness, breathing difficulties, changes in blood pressure, and digestive symptoms are some of the signs and symptoms of potassium deficiency.