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Electrolyte Abnormalities, Hyperkalemia

Electrolyte Normal Range Hyperkalemia
Sign and Symptoms
Treatment of Hyperkalemia Hypokalemia
Signs and Symptoms
Treatment of Hypokalemia
  • Potassium

Normal levels in the body 3.5-5.5 mEq/L

  • Causes of potassium imbalances in the body include diarrhea, diabetes ketoacidosis, vomiting, folic deficiencies, excessive sweating, overdose laxatives and diuretics, excessive intake or decreased intake of potassium in the diet and excessive consumption of alcohol
Some of the signs and symptoms of patients presenting with potassium above the normal levels include:
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis of respiratory and speech muscles
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Intermittent intestinal colic
  • Ventricular dysrhythmias
  • Chest pains that result from respiratory and cardiac changes.
The treatment therapies are aimed at decreasing potassium in the body to normal ranges. The treatment includes:
  • IV calcium to reverse cardiac toxicity if present.
  • Correct the source of excess potassium.
  • Infuse with glucose and insulin to stimulate potassium uptake into the cells (Story, 2020).
  • Administer sodium bicarbonate to reverse metabolic acidosis
  • Beta adrenergic agonist therapy
  • Administration of diuretics to excrete excessive potassium in the body (Story, 2020)
  • Consider dialysis in case of lethal hyperkalemia
Signs and symptoms of hypokalemia include:
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Palpitations
  • Psychological symptoms include hallucinations, delirium, and depression (Story, 2020)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Polydipsia
  • Respiratory failure that results from paralysis of muscles that control breathing.
  • Polyuria
The goal of treatment is to increase the potassium in the body to the normal levels. Treatment therapies include:
  • Discontinue diuretics or laxatives if they are the cause.
  • Manage diarrhea and vomiting
  • Oral potassium replacement for levels between 2.3 to 3.5 mEq/L. This can be done through increasing the dietary consumption (Story, 2020)
  • IV potassium therapy for levels below 2.5 mEq/L
  • Cardiac monitoring is critical to determine any drastic changes in the cardiac function (Story, 2020).


Story, L. (2020). Pathophysiology: A practical approach. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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StudyKraken. "Electrolyte Abnormalities, Hyperkalemia." August 19, 2022.


StudyKraken. 2022. "Electrolyte Abnormalities, Hyperkalemia." August 19, 2022.


StudyKraken. (2022) 'Electrolyte Abnormalities, Hyperkalemia'. 19 August.

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