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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unsuspecting Dietary Factors in Hyperkalemia: A Case Report on Why History Matters

  • Author(s): McLendon, Kevin
  • Wiggins, Matthew
  • Hunt, Derek
  • Gauthier, Alex
  • Thoppil, Deepu
  • et al.

Introduction: We present a case of hyperkalemia secondary to excessive dietary intake of hard caramel candies.

Case Report: An 88-year-old male who presented with acute abdominal pain and vomiting was found to have hyperkalemia of 6.9 milliequivalents per liter. He was stabilized, treated, and discharged the following day after resolution. The cause was identified as his daily consumption of 200 hard caramel candies.

Discussion: The patient had been consuming sugar-free candies, which induced a chronic diarrhea. This led to potassium wasting and augmentation of his home medications. When he transitioned to eating regular caramel candies, he retained too much potassium leading to his presentation.

Conclusion: While often overlooked, dietary history is a crucial part of history-taking to ensure that the underlying cause for illness is discovered and addressed.

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