Signs of too much potassium

Hyperkalemia, or elevated potassium, is a serious, potentially life-threatening disorder. Potassium is an electrolyte that is vital to the everyday processes of sustaining life such as keeping the heart beating and assisting nerve function and communication. Both too much and not enough potassium can cause similar issues. Often brought on by potassium supplementation and a diet high in potassium, hyperkalemia requires immediate medical assistance. If you believe you have hyperkalemia, see your doctor immediately for treatment and advice.

Heart Palpitations

Since potassium is crucial to heart function, heart problems are often the first sign that your potassium levels are off-kilter. Palpitations will cause you to have an increased awareness of your heart beating because it's beating too quickly or too slowly or is skipping beats. If the palpitations are severe enough and the level of potassium high enough, a heart attack can result. If you have recurring instances of palpitations at any time, immediately see your doctor.

Stomach Cramps

Potassium assists in maintaining smooth contractions of the muscles in the digestive system. When there is a build-up of potassium in your blood, your digestive muscles may contract sporadically, intensely or more than usual. This causes stomach cramps and pain.


Diarrhoea is the end result of the digestive issues caused by hyperkalemia. According to Dr. Richard Johnson of Louisville, KY, the stomach cramps and diarrhoea resulting from hyperkalemia can be so potent that you may feel as if you've taken a laxative.

Muscle Spasms

Potassium regulates communication between the brain and your muscles. When there is too much potassium in your body, muscle spasms can result because the communication channels are obscured.

Shifts in Mood

Irritability and anxiety can be signs of hyperkalemia. Many people who don't feel well experience shifts in mood. However, too much potassium causes a direct shift in mood because of the influence potassium has on the brain and the body's internal communication systems.


Fatigue results from too much potassium as the body desperately tries to rebalance itself. The heart is working harder than normal, the muscles are fighting to work normally and extremely tiredness is often the result.

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About the Author

Since 2001, Kea Grace has published in "Dog Fancy," "Clean Run," "Front and Finish" and an international Czechoslovakian agility enthusiast magazine. Grace is the head trainer for Gimme Grace Dog Training and holds her CPDT-KA and CTDI certifications. She is a member of the APDT and is a recognized CLASS instructor. She's seeking German certification from the Goethe Institut.