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Electrolytes

About the test
What is this test done for?
Electrolyte test is done to measure the electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride in the blood.
Why is it Done?
The test is done as a panel which includes sodium, potassium, and chloride. The test is performed to investigate conditions causing electrolyte imbalance.
When should it be performed?

The test should be performed when the following symptoms are seen:

  • Fluid accumulation in the body (edema)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Dullness
  • Irregular heart beat.
  • It is also ordered to monitor treatment of certain conditions including high blood pressure, kidney, liver and lung diseases where electrolyte disturbances can  occur
How is it done
A blood sample will be collected from a vein in your arm. Fasting is not needed prior to sample collection.
Results
  • Sodium: normal 135 to 145mEq/L
    • Low levels could occur due to excessive loose motions, vomiting, excessive sweating, certain medications like ACE inhibitors, heparin,  use of diuretics or in Addison’s disease.
    • High levels can be due to dehydration, Cushing syndrome, or in condition like diabetes insipidus. Certain medications like corticosteroids, certain cough medicines.
  • Potassium: normal levels are 3.5 to 5.1mEq/L
    • High levels are seen in Addison’s disease or infections or diabetes or dehydration. Also certain drugs like NSAIDs, ACE inhibitors can cause hyperkalemia.
    • Lower levels are seen when one is suffering from diarrheas, hyperaldosteronism, in diabetes when a person is on insulin.
  • Chlorides: normal values are 98 to 107mEq/L
    • High levels canoccur due to dehydration, high sodium levels in Cushing syndrome.
    • Low levels can occur due to congestive cardiac failure.
  • Bicarbonates: normal levels are 23 to 29mEq/L
    • High levels are seen in prolonged vomiting, lung disease like COPD, metabolic acidosis. Certain drugs like barbiturates, hydrocortisones increase the levels.
    • Low levels are seen in shock, chronic diarrhea, diabetic ketoacidosis. Certain drugs like methicillin, tetracycline decrease the bicarbonate levels in the blood.
Other Tests
CBC and renal function tests are performed to assess the normal body functions.
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