Fast Five Quiz: Hyperkalemia Signs and Symptoms

A. Brent Alper, Jr, MD, MPH


December 07, 2021

Hyperkalemia can result from increased potassium intake, decreased potassium excretion, or a shift of potassium to the extracellular space. Most cases revolve around decreased potassium excretion. It is unlikely for increased potassium intake or a shift of potassium to the extracellular space to be the sole cause of hyperkalemia. Usually, several disorders are present simultaneously.

Even in individuals with normal or only mildly decreased renal function, drug side effects, renal tubular acidosis, or other mechanisms can decrease renal potassium excretion and cause hyperkalemia. Type IV renal tubular acidosis can result from diabetes, sickle cell disease or trait, lower urinary tract obstruction, adrenal insufficiency, primary Addison syndrome (due to autoimmune disease, tuberculosis, or infarct), enzyme deficiencies, or genetic disorders.

Learn more about the etiology of hyperkalemia.

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