Question :

Elevated potassium and sodium blood levels

Dear Ask The Doctor:
I was told that I have elevated levels of potassium (5.9) and sodium (148) in my blood labs. I also have been having kidney pain for a few months and told my Dr. but they said your kidneys don't usually hurt and it is likely something else that hurts. So what can be causing my elevated sodium and potassium levels? I have to wait another 3 weeks or so for the results of a second blood test. Thanks Doc!


Answer :

Dear Patient: 
High levels of Potassium and Sodium in your blood might be caused not only by kidney conditions. Other possibilities such as side effects from certain medications, a dysfunction in the suprarenal glands, diabetes and breakdown of muscle might also increase the levels of potassium.
In my opinion your sodium level is borderline high and in the meantime you could avoid salty foods especially containing more than 300mg of sodium.
Sometimes a report of high blood potassium isn't true. Instead it may be caused by the rupture of blood cells in the blood sample during or shortly after drawing the sample. The ruptured cells leak their potassium into the sample. This falsely raises the amount of potassium in the blood sample, even though the potassium level in your body is actually normal. When this is suspected, a repeat blood sample is done. I would definitely suggest you to take another blood test to confirm or rule out high potassium levels.


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