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Potassium levels in bloods

Hi everybody. I hope you are having the best day possible.

It's just a little thing but it's niggling away at me. After my regular blood test last week I got a call from the lovely rheumy nurse. She was concerned that it showed high levels of potassium. I asked what could have caused that and she said it was probably to do with the way the blood draw was taken and asked that I get another blood draw done asap which I did the next day. Lovely rheumy nurse rang again the day after that and said the levels were coming down nicely. What?

If this high potassium reading was caused by problems with the first bloods the second should have been normal surely and not "coming down nicely"?

Did a silly thing and googled "high potassium in blood" which said it indicated severe kidney problems. I already have kidney damage from illness in childhood and have some odd symptoms. Should I start panicking?

Jan

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Hi Gnarli

I have chronic kidney disease and last year I had a couple if episodes of A K I.

I was taken into hospital as my kidney function went down to 14% - and boy was I poorly.

After spending a week on drips and awful hospital food I was finally discharged and my kidney function improved.

But a couple of weeks after coming from hospital

The renal nurse called in to see me and did a blood test .It recorded my potassium levels at 6.7!- she nearly had a wobbly fit and sent me straight back to the renal unit.

They did a repeat test and my potassium level had come down to just over 6.0.Apparently,these blood tests are very sensitive and can change quite quickly and any minor disruption can corrupt the result.

After giving me a course of sodium bicarbonate tablets to take I was released home from the hospital later that day.My levels returned to acceptable within about a week.

They let me out of the hospital as they knew I had problems with my kidneys but no real reason was given for the cause of it.

I was given a list of foods and drinks to avoid to prevent an increase in potassium eg bananas,oranges,apples,grapes,nuts.,all things that until now I had seen as healthy foods.

If you are at all concerned about your potassium levels check with gp as high or low levels are equally as bad.

Take care.

Crusee

XX

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Hi Crusee

Many thanks for your kind response. I'm sorry to hear you've been poorly and, adding insult to injury, been subjected to hospital food.

I have made an appointment with the GP for Friday just to put my mind at rest and will probably leave with yet another script for antibiotics. Looking at the list of foods best avoided re an increase in potassium probably describes my favourite foods. Bother and drat.

Thanks again

Jan

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Hi Jan.

The list contained a lot more things than those too,they were just an example from memory.

Potatoes featured heavily on there especially jacket potatoes ( its to do with the roasted skins - best bit in my opinion).Things like potato crisps and potato snacks ,and chocolate on there as well.

Wise to see the GP he can possibly give you an explanation and some guidance on diet and meds.

I think if they were unduly concerned they would have had you in hospital by now ,and since they are "coming down nicely" they are obviously sorting themselves out without too much outside help.Maybe it was just a glitch,dont panic just yet but just be aware of it.

Strange thing is I didnt feel ill when the potassium reading was high and that is the worrying aspect.You dont know anythings wrong.

Good luck with the appointment on friday.

Let me know how you get on.

Take care.

Crusee

XX

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Hi Crusee

That seems to be a rather comprehensive list. Well that's it then. If there is a problem with the kidneys I'm going to starve. Apart from potato crisps and snacks that is pretty much my staple diet.

I reckon you are probably right and it's just a glitch but I'm not feeling great at the moment so a trip to the GP was always going to be on the cards. Just so long as they don't admit me again I'll be grateful.

I'll update you as soon as I know what's going on.

Thanks again for your kindness

Jan

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Youre welcome.

Anything to avoid hospital food.

I even had an escape tunnel planned with my hubby but it hit a major snag when I discovered my ward was on 4 th floor of the hospital- a tunnel was never going to be the answer was it?-- lol

Hope all goes well,on friday.

Crusee

XX

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Hi buttonhater

Fortunately, this is something I have not experienced .unfortunately,

This means I can add nothing further to what's been said but to say that I hope your gp is able to put your mind at rest and that you begin to feel better soon.

Marie

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Thank you Marie. That's really kind of you. I expect I'm fretting for nothing. Proper drama queen me.

Jan

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Given the heavy meds we take, I would always err on the side of caution. Better to be safe than sorry.

Best of luck

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Thank you

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I had a phone call from my GP a couple of years over this " are you ok?)' me "great" him "well pack a bag and go to A&E now, as your technically dead" "me "what" him but don't panic as if the blood is not kept properly it does give a false reading". So off to A&E and just fine.

So don't panic this appears to be common but go to your GP and discuss any symptoms asap.

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Oh bless your sweet heart Medway lady. I surely needed a giggle today and now I've had one. I expect you are right and it's just a blip. My appointment is on Friday with GO because there are some things I can't dilly dally over.

Thank you

Jan

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My GP is really nice and has a sense of humour and I like and trust him. I'm very lucky as not all are as caring and actually really take the time to explain stuff. I hope nothing is wrong and do tell how you get on. By the way the second test was one done whilst an inpatient as they didn't let me go home. But I felt great and I was certain I was ok. lol

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I don't think I've seen the same Doctor twice yet and they have varied between kind and caring and downright perishing rude. We have lived here for four years and I really miss our old medical centre. Hi hum.

As soon as I know what's going on I'll let you know.

Thank you

Jan

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Hi,

My potassium levels are normally the higher end of normal 4+ and occasionally flick into a low high - around 5.9. But it's never been a worry. Sometimes a blood cell will rupture when blood is drawn and this releases its potassium into the sample taken giving a false high.

The real culprits for potassium in the diet are bananas, artichokes, shellfish, dried peas/beans, milk, lo-salt substitutes (they use potassium instead of sodium), spinach, sweet potatoes and potatoes (particularly baked). All sports drinks and bars have it to replaced the potassium lost during exercising. Also a lot of 'diet' produce have added potassium.

If my reading comes back high I am usually a 'good girl' and conciously eat lower potassium foods but then flick to my normal diet when the reading is back into the normal range. Luckily I don't eat much potatoes and I am allergic to shellfish but I like sweet pots and spinach - heyho can't win them all!! 😎

Have a good day

Ali

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Hi Ali. Many thanks for your kind response. This list of no-no foods gets longer and longer doesn't It? I am definitely going to starve and as I am already turning into a human twiglet this might not be pretty.

Reckon I'll just assume all is well until proved otherwise.

Jan

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High potassium can often be because the sample was taken incorrectly ie they took the full blood count tube 1st (it has some liquid in the tube that contains potassium), the sample was difficult to take so potassium leaks out of the red blood cells, it took to long too get to the lab or was stored incorrectly (in the fridge or near a radiator).

The good news is you have had an urgent repeat thats fine. The urea, creatinine, sodium and calcium (if they did them) will help your dr decide if the high potassium was genuine or due to the reasons I've listed above.

Jacey xXx

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Hi Jacey

Thank you for your kind response. Your explanation has helped soothe my fears a lot. Only diagnosed November last year I reckon I have a lot to learn.

Jan

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No panic at all, Buttonhater. Same thing happened to me. Suddenly I had a high potassium reading. They did the test over and ... ta da ... it was still high. Thinking back on it, I recalled that several weeks earlier, I had got fed up with my aches and pains. I decided that enough was enough, and I allowed myself to take acetaminophen, which I usually use sparingly. I went to max dose, 24/7 and I felt much better. That's when I googled, and eventually found this: ehealthme.com/ds/tylenol/hi...

I fit the profile: woman over 60, on acetaminophen for less than a month. I found the original research that the article was based on, and showed it to my nurse practitioner. She was slackjawed! I cut back on the acetaminophen, and all was resolved.

Yes, there is an awful lot to learn, isn't there?

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Hi seenie

That's really good to know. Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to give such a comprehensive answer. I don't usually take acetaminophen - I haven't seen it on sale here in the UK - but bought some on our last trip to the States. It's been sitting on the shelf tempting me to take it but I reckon it can go on sitting. Like you I'm a woman of over 60 and I can live without all those nasties that it can bring. Big hugs

Jan

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Jan, in the UK it is called paracetamol.

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And you are most welcome. ;-)

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Hi seemie

Once apon a time I had a brain. All gone, dear dear, never mind

Jan

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I used to have one too. Mine does come back to visit every now and again, though. LOL

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My potassium levels have been slowly going up since last October, after 2nd round of rituximab. Wonder if this is yet another biologic that doesn't like me.

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What was the outcome Gnarli ? I've had to be retested today as my potassium was 6.3 on Friday apparently. I had another raised level a month ago... like you I've googled and scared myself... should know more tomorrow when second results come back

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Don't know if this'll help, girli1969, . . . πŸ€”

If food is contributing to high potassium readings πŸ“ˆ , may help to keep an eye out πŸ‘ for potassium-rich foods (Almonds, Apricots πŸ‘ , Avocados πŸ₯‘ , Beets, Bok Choy, Brazil Nuts, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli 🌳 , Cantaloupe 🍈 , Coconut, Figs, Kiwi πŸ₯ , Spinach πŸƒ , Swiss Chard, Tomatoes πŸ… ) & minimise ingesting them? 😳 πŸ€”

If interested, additional lists πŸ“ of high-potassium foods are at 'Oh what a day, wish it were over!': healthunlocked.com/nras/pos...

Wishing you the very best, girli1969. πŸ™ πŸ€ 🌺 🌞

.

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Thank you, whilst I do eat some of those high potassium foods, I always have done, so don't think it's diet causing this level. I had a phone all from my gp just after 8 this morning to go and see them this afternoon, so should know more then hopefully

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Ah . . . very interesting, girli1969. πŸ€”

If comfortable doing so, would you mind letting us know what the follow-up (& possible resolution) is? πŸ€”

Wishing you best of luck this afternoon. πŸ™ πŸ€ 🌺 🌞

.

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Got to gps, but results not back... however did a urine test and phoned me later advising an antibiotic for urine infection. Then telephoned me again to blood potassium back down to 4.4. So they suspect a test error. Hoping the infection may be why I've been feeling rough, relieved about the potassium stuff

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.

Ahh . . . interesting . . . πŸ€” a possible test error. 😳

Yes, indeed relief about the potassium. Whew! 😰

(One less thing to worry about. πŸ€— )

Out of curiosity πŸ€”, did gps also prescribe a 'probiotic' along with antibiotic, girli1969? πŸ€”

.

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No

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.

Hmm . . . πŸ€”

Don't know it's just our physicians πŸ‘©β€βš•οΈ πŸ‘¨β€βš•οΈor just ”new (or perhaps just 'different') ways” of doing things, but our physicians have been advising us to take probiotics πŸ’Š along with our prescribed antibiotics πŸ’Š. 😳 πŸ€”

So far, so good. Whenever prescribed antibiotics, we take a probiotic supplement along with our usual 'probiotic'-laden foods (sauerkraut, miso, etc.). πŸ€”

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Wishing you all the very best xxx

J

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Hi girlie1969. I had the repeat test and all was ok on that one. Probably just a wobble as many kind folk here have suggested. I've has consistently 'normal' readings ever since and sincerely hope it's something similar for you. Wishing you better

Jan

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Thank you, been feeling really unwell last few days so rather worried

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I'm really sorry to hear you're feeling poorly and of course you're worried. This whole rotten, nasty disease is enough to give anyone the grue. I really hope it's all either just a false alarm or something that can be easily fixed. Great big hugs

Jan

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