What is an electrolyte panel?
Electrolyte rare electrically charged minerals that help control the amount of fluids and the balance of acids and bases in your body. They also help control muscle and nerve activity, heart rhythm, and other important functions. An electrolyte panel, also known as a serum electrolyte test, is a blood test that measures levels of the body’s main electrolytes:
- Sodium, which helps control the amount of fluid in the body. It also helps your nerves and muscles work properly.
- Chloride, which also helps control the amount of fluid in the body. In addition, it helps maintain healthy blood volume and blood pressure.
- Potassium, which helps your heart and muscles work properly.
- Bicarbonate, which helps maintain the body’s acid and base balance. It also plays an important role in moving carbon dioxide through the bloodstream.
Abnormal levels of any of these electrolytes can be a sign of a serious health problem,
What is it used for?
Electrolytes are usually measured together. But sometimes they are tested individually. Separate testing may be done if a provider suspects a problem with a specific electrolyte.
What do the results mean?
Your results will include measurements for each electrolyte. Abnormal electrolyte levels can be caused by several different conditions, including:
- Kidney disease.
- Acidosis, a condition in which you have too much acid in your blood. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
- Alkalosis, a condition in which you have too much base in your blood. It can cause irritability, muscle twitching, and tingling in the fingers and toes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why do I need an electrolyte panel?
You may need this test if you have symptoms indicating that your body’s electrolytes may be out of balance. These include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
Q.What happens during an electrolyte panel?
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
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