Does Potassium Make You Urinate?


It might be dangerous to have an excessively high or low potassium level. Low amounts of potassium can result in less urine, whereas abnormal levels can lead to reduced urination combined with other symptoms.

What is potassium?

Potassium is a mineral that is necessary for the body and is required by all of its tissues. Its importance is highly underestimated and is frequently referred to as an electrolyte because it has a small electrical charge that triggers numerous cell and nerve functions. Potassium can be found in many foods and can also be taken as a supplement. Its main job in the body is to help keep the amount of fluid in our cells at a normal level. Its counterpart, sodium, is responsible for maintaining normal fluid levels outside of cells. Potassium supports normal blood pressure and helps muscles to contract.1 

Potassium is found in a wide variety of foods, with potassium rich sources such as tomatoes, leafy greens, pumpkins, eggplant, potatoes, beans, and carrots. It is also found in dairy products, poultry, meat, nuts, and fish.1

Symptoms of abnormal potassium levels

Symptoms of high levels of potassium include muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, nausea, or other unusual feelings. Symptoms usually start off as mild and progresses over several weeks or months.2 

If there is a sudden increase in your potassium levels, you may have symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, vomiting or nausea. Hyperkalemia can be fatal if it develops suddenly or is severe. It requires prompt urgent medical care.2

Mild cases of low potassium may not cause any symptoms but at times can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, constipation, heart palpitations, numbness, and tingling. More severe cases of low potassium may cause symptoms such as muscle cramps, muscle twitches, muscle weakness, light-headedness, excessive urination, excessive thirst, abnormal heart rhythms and low blood pressure.3 

Causes of abnormal potassium levels

The most common causes include:2

  • Kidney disease: If your kidneys are not functioning properly, hyperkalaemia may occur. The kidneys are responsible for maintaining a healthy level of potassium in the body by ensuring that the quantity of potassium that is consumed is equal to the amount of potassium that is excreted in urine. You get potassium through the drinks and foods you consume. The kidneys filter it, and it is excreted in the urine. When kidney disease is still in its early stages, the kidneys are typically able to compensate for abnormally high potassium levels. But as kidney function gets worse, they may not be able to get rid of enough potassium from your body. Hyperkalaemia frequently results from advanced kidney disease
  • Diet high in potassium: Hyperkalemia can also result from eating too many foods high in potassium, especially in those who already have advanced kidney disease. High potassium foods include bananas, orange juice, cantaloupe and honeydew melon
  • Drugs that keep the kidneys from losing enough potassium:Some drugs can make it hard for your kidneys to get rid of enough potassium. This could cause your potassium levels to rise
  • Low potassium levels result from vomiting, diarrhea, or overuse of laxatives4
  • Drugs that cause the kidneys to get rid of too much salt, water, and potassium can occasionally cause too much potassium to be excreted in urine (diuretics)4
  • The adrenal glands overproduce aldosterone, a hormone that prompts the kidneys to expel a lot of potassium, which is seen in many adrenal disorders such asCushing’s syndrome4
  • Drugs that allow more potassium to flow from the blood into cells, such as insulin, albuterol, and terbutaline, can lead to hypokalemia. However, unless another illness is also causing potassium to be lost, these medications often result in temporary hypokalemia4
  • A low magnesium level in the blood can occasionally produce hypokalemia, and a low magnesium level can sometimes cause hypokalemia (hypomagnesemia)4

Urine potassium test

The potassium urine test checks how much potassium is in a sample of urine.5

It can be carried out either in a single sample of urine or with urine that has been collected over the course of 24 hours. A single urine sample can be collected either at a doctors office or inside your home6

The normal range for potassium in the blood is between 3.5 to 5.0, however this might vary from test to lab.2

High potassium levels (Hyperkalemia)

Hyperkalemia is described as a serum or plasma potassium level that is more than 5.0 mEq/L to 5.5 mEq/L. High potassium levels can result in life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, muscular weakness, or paralysis even though mild hyperkalemia is normally asymptomatic. Symptoms often appear at greater concentrations, between 6.5 and 7 mEq/L.7 

Low potassium levels (Hypokalemia)

Hypokalaemia is defined as a serum potassium concentration of less than 3.5 mEq/L (3.5 mmol/L). Hypokalaemia is most caused by diuretics or gastrointestinal disorders.8


It is possible to treat abnormal potassium levels. You might need to consume less potassium in your diet. If there is a need for any adjustments to be made to the medications that you are currently taking, your healthcare practitioner will let you know. You should stop eating salt substitutes, which are high in potassium. A dietitian can help you develop a low potassium meal plan.2 

Some people may also need special medication to get rid of extra potassium and keep it from coming back. This can include:2 

  • Water pills (diuretics) which help remove extra potassium from your body. They work by making your kidney produce more urine. Potassium is generally removed through urine
  • Potassium binders, which usually come in the form of a powder. These are diluted with a little water and taken with food. When swallowed, they "bind" to the extra potassium in the bowels and get rid of it. You must strictly adhere to the directions when taking potassium binders. For instance, they need to be taken at least six hours apart from other medications

If you have low levels of potassium, your doctor will advise you to take an oral potassium supplement. If your condition is more serious, your doctor could inject you with potassium intravenously.3

Reasons you may need potassium through the vein include:3  

  • Abnormally low potassium levels
  • hypokalemia that is producing irregular heart rhythms
  • supplements given orally are ineffective
  • You are losing more potassium than can be made up by oral supplements

Your doctor will also treat any other condition that is causing your low potassium levels. If you need a diuretic, your doctor can switch you to one that keeps potassium in your system. They could advise you to take more potassium supplements.3


A potassium urine test is a quick and painless way to see if your potassium levels are balanced. You should speak to a doctor if you exhibit any signs of having either high or low levels of potassium. 


  1. Harvard School of Public Health. Potassium [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2019 [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
  2. National Kidney Foundation. What is Hyperkalemia? [Internet]. National Kidney Foundation. 2016 [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Low Potassium Levels (Hypokalemia) | Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2018 [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
  4. LEWIS.JAMES. Hypokalemia (Low Level of Potassium in the Blood) [Internet]. MSD Manual Consumer Version. MSD Manuals; 2019 [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
  5. UCSF Health. Potassium - Urine [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
  6. Alberta Health Services. Potassium Test: About This Test [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
  7. Simon LV, Farrell MW. Hyperkalemia [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; 2019 [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
  8. Medscape. Hypokalemia Workup: Approach Considerations, Urine Potassium and Other Electrolytes, Urine Osmolality [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Sep 8]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Hana Hailu

Master's degree, Brain Science, University of Glasgow

Hana Hailu is an accomplished academic with a strong foundation in the field of brain science and pharmacology. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Brain Science from the prestigious University of Glasgow (2021-2022). Prior to this, Hana earned her Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Applied Pharmacology from Queen Margaret University, where she studied from September 2017 to September 2021. With her deep knowledge and dedication, Hana is poised to make significant contributions to the world of neuroscience and pharmacology.

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