05/10/2010 - Questions and Answers

Potassium Levels: What are normal potassium levels?

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Potassium Levels: What are normal potassium levels?

Potassium is a mineral available in several fruits and vegetables (potatoes, oranges, dried fruits, bananas amongst others). High potassium levels may have an effect on the heart rhythm. Low potassium levels (hypokalemia) is hardly ever a trouble for people with advanced kidney failure. A blood tests are run to assist the doctor assess potassium levels.

Question

What are normal potassium levels? I am 54, and have PKD (polycystic kidney disease) and I'm a major kidney stone producer (calcium stones). I have had stones 14 times in 11 years. My potassium is low now at 3, what does that mean?

 

Answer

What are normal potassium levels?
The normal potassium level range for adults in most labs is 3.5 to 5.5 milliequivalents (mEq) per liter. This range may vary slightly from lab to lab. Normal ranges are usually shown next to your test result in the lab report.

If your blood potassium is sometimes higher than normal it will be because you have PKD (polycystic kidney disease). The reason for your present serum potassium level is probably good medical management by your doctor. The first link below may be helpful to you in learning more PKD.

Kidney stones can be made of calcium oxalate, uric acid, oxalate, struvite, or cystine. A kidney stone develops from calcium oxylate and other crystals such as uric acid that precipitate out from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. Normally, urine contains substances that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming; however, for unknown reasons, these inhibitors don't work properly for everyone.

The reasons are not always clear as to why some people form stones and others do not. However, the susceptibility to stone formation is believed to be caused by such factors as diet, drinking too little fluid, chronic urinary tract infections and certain genetic and metabolic disease or conditions.

For all kidney stones the chief points to note are:
1. Drink at least 2 liters (8 glasses) of unsweetened beverages or water daily
2. Add less salt when preparing your meals, and eat salty food in moderation
3. Eat less meat (not more than 2-4 portions a week)
4. Exercise restraint with oxalate-rich foods
5. Preferably eat high-fiber foods

There are links below that may be helpful to you in learning more about potassium levels and your problems.

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Polycystic Kidney Disease
MedlinePlus: Kidney Stones
Diet Can Cut the Recurrence of Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones in Adults

Created on: 05/10/2010
Reviewed on: 05/10/2010

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Anonymous wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

My husband used to have high potassium levels (he had diabetes). High levels of potassium require monitoring by a doctor, as very high levels of potassium can be damaging to your heart.