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All You Need to Know About Electrolytes

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All You Need to Know About Electrolytes

Laboratory Medicine | Posted on 07/04/2023 by Dr. Meenakshi Singh



Introduction

Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals playing an important role when it comes to maintaining the fluid balance in the human body. These minerals are chloride, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate. All these minerals are responsible to facilitate nerve impulses, ensure the normal muscles & organs, and maintain adequate hydration. When there is an imbalance in the levels of electrolytes, it can cause significant consequences on our health. Medical professionals usually rely on electrolyte tests for assessing electrolyte levels and imbalances. 

If you think that there is an imbalance in your electrolyte levels, then you must get it diagnosed by getting in touch with the best healthcare services in Jaipur, known as Rukmani Birla Hospital. They have the most experienced and highly skilled healthcare experts who will not only ensure the diagnosis of the condition but also offer the treatment solution that’s right according to your bodily needs.

In this blog, we will discuss everything about electrolyte tests, and explore their significance, types, and interpretation in medical practice. Hence, make sure to stick to the end.

What are electrolyte tests?

Electrolyte tests are often ordered by healthcare experts for assessing the balance of electrolyte levels in the body, diagnosing certain conditions, monitoring ongoing treatments, and guiding adequate interventions. These tests are usually performed on blood samples and sometimes on urine or other fluids in the body. Healthcare experts gain beneficial insights by measuring the electrolyte concentrations in a patient’s overall health and identifying any underlying imbalances. 

What are the types of electrolytes tests?

There are various types of electrolytes tests which include: 

  • Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP): The basic metabolic panel is a comprehensive test that involves measuring various electrolytes which include potassium, sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate. It is useful in assessing the functions of the kidney through blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels. This test benefits in offering a general overview of kidney health and electrolyte balance. 

 

  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP): The comprehensive metabolic panel is a basic metabolic panel extension that involves tests for evaluating blood glucose levels and liver function. Additionally, for electrolytes measurement, this test involves liver enzymes, albumin, bilirubin, and total protein. It offers a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s metabolic health. 

 

  • Serum Sodium Test: This test benefits in measuring the sodium concentration in the blood and assists in detecting conditions like low sodium levels, dehydration, and high sodium levels. 

 

  • Serum Potassium Test: The serum potassium test allows healthcare professionals for measuring the potassium levels in the blood, and helps in diagnosing and monitoring conditions like low potassium levels and high potassium levels. Abnormal levels of potassium can cause serious cardiac issues. 

 

  • Serum Calcium Test: The serum calcium test is useful in measuring the levels of calcium in the blood. It helps in diagnosing the management of conditions like low calcium levels and high calcium levels. Imbalances in the level of calcium can lead to impacting bone health and cause disorders related to cardiovascular and neuromuscular.

Why is there a need for an electrolyte test?

An electrolyte test is recommended as part of a regular physical assessment while determining the cause of certain symptoms or during hospitalization. An electrolyte test is useful in detecting electrolyte imbalance caused due to:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure or heart failure 
  • Kidney illnesses 
  • Cancer
  • Dehydration
  • Liver illnesses like cirrhosis 
  • Drinking too much water 
  • Disorder of substance use 

What are the signs of low electrolytes? 

There are different signs of low electrolytes which include:

  • Laziness 
  • Vomit 
  • Anxiety
  • Irritation
  • Fatigue 
  • Stomach ache
  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Weak muscles 
  • Abdomen cramps 
  • Numbness and tingling 
  • Convulsions or seizures 
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Do you need to fast before an electrolyte test?

There is no need to fast before going for an electrolyte blood test. However, the healthcare expert might ask the patient for fasting if there is a need of measuring substances in the blood samples such as blood sugar and cholesterol. 

What happens during an electrolyte blood test?

An electrolyte test is simply a blood draw that takes place in a hospital, lab, or healthcare expert's office. A phlebotomist is a specialist who performs this test.

How should you prepare for an electrolyte blood test?

There are certain tips that can prove to be useful for the patient before an electrolyte blood test. Here are these tips:

  • It is essential to ensure drinking lots of fluids as it helps in easy blood flow. 
  • It is advisable not to smoke before the test as it can make it difficult for the phlebotomist when inserting the needle into a vein. 
  • If someone has a fear of needles or hemophobia that is a fear of blood, then it should be discussed with the provider. They can help the patient to make the blood draw easier 

What should you expect after an electrolyte blood test?

There are certain things that you must know after an electrolyte blood test. Firstly, always make sure to wear the bandage for four hours so that infection can be prevented. Some people might experience inflammation or bruising in the needle area, however, it goes away within a few days. Here are some steps that can be taken for reducing discomfort or bruising: 

  • Placing an ice pack on the bandaged area 
  • An over-the-counter pain reliever, if required 
  • Make sure to avoid lifting heavy objects or exercising for a day after the blood draw

Conclusion

An electrolyte test is useful in offering information about the fluids in the body which include blood’s acid-base balance. If your healthcare expert has ordered an electrolyte blood test for diagnosing or ruling out a condition, then make sure to visit an expert healthcare service like Rukmani Birla Hospital in Jaipur. You will have to get the test done if you are suffering from a condition that causes electrolyte imbalance. At last, the results will help the doctor to offer treatment that is required to treat an illness.