How to Lower Potassium Level in the Kidneys

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Kidneys maintain your body's potassium levels, and high or low levels are equally dangerous. Lower the potassium levels in your kidneys with the help of a practicing nephrologist in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Kidney & Bladder Health
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Video Transcript

Hi, this is Dr. Sean Hashmi with Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills. I'm a Practicing Nephrologist over here. So today, I'd like to talk to you about how to lower potassium in your kidneys. But before we start, let me clarify one main very important point and that is high potassium and low potassium are equally dangerous. Your kidneys do a remarkable job of maintaining your potassium level. So, for the great majority of people out there who have normal kidney functions, you won't have any issues with high potassium. However, if you have parents or if you have people who have any sort of kidney injury or chronic kidney disease, they have to be very careful about potassium. But, it's always a good idea to have it check and you can always do that with a simple block of soap. What causes high potassium? Well, food is an easy way. So, there are several foods that are high in potassium and I have certain ones that I think if you can cut down, it'll make a big difference. I call them my big six; so, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, melons, oranges and bananas are my big six that I try to cut down. There's a lot of other foods that are high in potassium, those are just six that I find a lot of people in my clinic to be eating a lot. Cutting down on those foods can actually lower your potassium because intake is nice. Now, in order for potassium to leave the body, it has to get out from the urinary tract, the majority. A little bit of fifteen get down through the colon, but, majority does go through the urinary tract. So, that means you need to function your kidneys. There's a lot of blood pressure medications that act on the kidneys and as a side effect of which, they actually inhibit the secretion of potassium. So, bottom line, you'll end up having high in potassium. What are those? Well, two categories are called Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibitor or ACE inhibitors. They all end in the name of pril; so, Enalapril, Benazepril, Lisinopril. Another category is your Aldosterone Receptor Blockers. Now, these are your Telmisartan. They all end in artan, so, Telmisartan, Valsartan. So, it's a great way to remember that this is another category. Another one is called Aldosterone Antagonist. A common medication is called Spironolactone and now, we have another medication on the market that's a direct renin inhibitor called Aliskiren or Tekturna that can also cause high potassium. Along with blood pressure medication that I just mentioned, another very important thing that can cause high potassium is pain medication specifically the category of non-steroidals anti-inflammatory drugs. So what are those? Those are over the counter; things like Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, Excedrin. These are all part of it and so you want to try to limit their intake. Now, Tylenol or Aceta, Acetaminophen on the other hand does not cause your potassium to go higher. So, how to lower your potassium? Foods, look at your medications and those are the biggies that you can do. Now, any kind of stressful exercise that you do can cause an acute rise in potassium. If you have a crushed injury where you fall down can cause a rise in potassium. So, if you have an elderly parent who fell, their potassium may go higher. If you have a severe infection in the body, that can raise your potassium and if you have any event that shuts down your kidney or damages your kidney, can raise your potassium because like we just said, kidneys are needed to get rid of potassium. So, that's a basic brief overview of how to lower your potassium. Remember, low potassium equally dangerous as high potassium. So, always check with your doctor. This is Dr. Sean Hashmi with Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills and today, we were talking about how to lower your potassium.

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