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Potassium Test

Also known as Potassium Blood
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What is this test?

This test is used to find out the potassium levels in the blood. Potassium is one of the important minerals needed for the body.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is the positive ion and carries a tiny electrical charge. Potassium is naturally available in many food items like banana, orange, dates, grapefruit, honeydew, potatoes, peas, mushrooms, cucumbers, cooked spinach etc. The average human body contains about 120 grams of potassium. Potassium ions are present in the several proteins and enzymes. Most of the potassium in the body is found inside of the body cells and only a small amount of it is found in the red blood cells.

Importance of Potassium:

Potassium is well absorbed from the small intestine and eliminated in urine and sweat. It is a soluble mineral and most of it is lost in cooking and processing food. It is very important for the body as it regulates the water balance along with the sodium. With sodium, potassium forms a sodium-potassium pump and this plays an important role in generating the electrical potential for nerve cells that help in the conduction of nerve impulses. As potassium leaves the cell it changes the membrane potential and allows the nerve impulses to progress. This sodium-potassium pump also helps in generating the contractions of muscles and it regulates the heart rate. This pump also prevents the cell swelling by pumping out the sodium. If sodium is pumped out from the cell then the cell swells and bursts. Body is dependent on potassium balance for regular heart contraction and healthy nervous system.

Potassium is essential for cellular biochemical reactions and energy metabolism. For the synthesis of proteins from amino acids in the cells, potassium is needed. It also participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates, glucose, and glycogen. Potassium is necessary for building muscle and for normal growth.

Why this test is performed?

The Potassium Blood Test is done to know whether an individual is having normal or abnormal potassium levels in the blood of the body. The doctor may ask to perform this test if an individual is suffering from conditions like hyperkalemia (high levels of potassium) and hypokalemia (low levels of potassium. This test is also done to determine the risk of developing kidney failure. If an individual is on the treatment of anti-diuretic medications like vasopressin, chlorothiazide etc., then the doctor may ask to perform this test to evaluate and to check the effectiveness of the treatment and potassium levels in the body. This helps the doctor to rule out the patient disease condition. If an individual is suffering from symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, paralysis in the arms and the legs, muscle cramps, irregular heartbeats, constipation, trauma, then the doctor may ask to do the Potassium Blood Test.

Generally, when a patient is diagnosed with kidney failure, Diabetes Mellitus (DM) or malnutrition visits hospital for a general check-up, the doctor may ask to undergo the Potassium blood test which gives a better status of the condition. Mostly, this test is done along with other Potassium tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Precautions:

Drugs like lithium, aspirin, digoxin, phenytoin, insulin, cyclosporin, vasopressin, indapamide, etc may change the levels of potassium in the blood. So inform your doctor prior to the test if you are on these medications.

Also known as Potassium (K) Blood, Serum Potassium Blood, Potassium (K), Serum Potassium.

Test Preparation

Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your Potassium Test. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for Potassium Test.

There are no specific preparations required for the Potassium Blood test.

Understanding your test results

If test results are more than the normal range then it may indicate that there may be conditions likes kidney dysfunction or kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, Addison disease (disorder in which adrenal gland doesn’t produce enough hormones) and high consumption of food items containing potassium, hyperkalemia (high levels of potassium), infection, dehydration, head injury or traumatic injury (sudden physical injury caused by external force).

If test results are less than the normal range, then it indicates that there may be a chance for conditions like alcoholism (uncontrolled drinking), Conn syndrome (excess production of hormone aldosterone), not managing the DM, diarrhea, vomiting, complications of acetaminophen overdose, getting IV fluids without enough potassium.

GenderAge groupsValue
UNISEXAll age groups3.6 - 5.2mmol/L
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