Electrolyte Balance - Potassium : Nursing Course


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The normal range for potassium in the body is:

3.5- 5 mEq/L

Rationale: Potassium is an electrolyte that is present in the body, and the slightest variation from normal levels can result in numerous changes in the body, including changes in cardiac rhythm. When a patient has an abnormal potassium level, it is important to determine the cause of the abnormal results. When the potassium values are abnormal, it is probable that other electrolytes in the body will also be abnormal. Treating the underlying cause of the abnormal value is essential to balancing out the electrolytes in the body, and maintaining the health of the patient.


When treating sever hyperkalemia, you should give:

calcium gluconate, sodium bicarb, insulin, and glucose

Rationale: Severe hyperkalemia must be treated rapidly to prevent the possibility of cardiac arrest. The first action that should be taken is to stop any potassium medications that the patient may be receiving. The next important step is to increase the cardiac impulse conduction, which is achieved by administering calcium chloride or calcium gluconate. The excess potassium that is circulating in the bloodstream needs to be shifting back into the cells, which is accomplished by administering sodium bicarbonate, insulin, and 50% dextrose. When treating hyperkalemia that is not severe, IV diuretics can be given to promote excretion of potassium through the kidneys. Another option is to administer Kayexalate, which binds with potassium in the GI tract to lower high potassium levels.


Typical cardiac changes seen with patients that are hypokalemic are:

flattened T waves and a depressed ST segment

Rationale:

A patient with a history of renal disease is at a high risk of developing:

hyperkalemia

Rationale:

A patient that a recent history of viral illness with severe diarrhea is at risk of developing:

hypokalemia

Rationale:

Common symptoms of hypokalemia are:

muscle weakness and leg cramps

Rationale:

When administering replacement potassium to a patient through an IV for hypokalemia, it should be administered:

over at least 1 hour, on an IV pump

Rationale:

An intracellular electrolyte that influences skeletal and cardiac muscle activity is:

potassium

Rationale:

Initial treatment for severe hypokalemia is:

potassium replacement

Rationale:

Typical cardiac changes seen with hyperkalemia is:

tall, peaked T waves

Rationale:

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