Electrolyte Panel

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electrolyte-panel
$47.31

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The electrolyte panel includes: Carbon dioxide, chloride, potassium, and sodium  

The electrolyte panel includes: Carbon dioxide, chloride, potassium, and sodium  

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that help the body manage chemical reactions and maintain the balance between fluids. These substances are located in the fluid in and around the body's cells (intracellular and extracellular fluid). The human body is roughly 60% water, meaning almost every fluid and cell contain electrolytes. They also help the brain send signals to one's muscles, allowing them to move and contract. This is possible since many chemical elements can naturally hold a positive or negative charge. Once those elements are dissolved in liquid, it grants the fluid the ability to conduct electricity. The body then uses positively and negatively charged ions to transport critical chemical compounds in and out of cells. Electrolytes help control nerve and muscle activity, heart rhythm, and other vital functions. Without electrolytes, the body would not be able to maintain homeostasis. Severe disruptions in electrolyte levels can lead to neurological and cardiac complications, resulting in a medical emergency unless quickly resolved.

What Is an Electrolyte Panel?

An Electrolyte Panel is a blood test designed to measure the body's primary electrolytes levels. They are frequently used in routine blood screenings to diagnose fluid imbalances. The test can also be referred to as an electrolyte blood test or serum electrolyte test. Several factors may cause an electrolyte imbalance

  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Dehydration or overhydration
  • Diabetes
  • Heart, liver, or kidney disease
  • Substance abuse

Some tests are designed to measure the levels of only one kind of electrolyte. Discounted Labs' Electrolyte Panel includes four out of the seven primary minerals:

  • Bicarbonate moves carbon dioxide through the bloodstream and balances the body's acid/base levels.
  • Chloride helps regulate the amount of fluid in the body and maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Potassium facilitates proper heart, nerve, muscle, and metabolic function.
  • Sodium controls fluid levels and assists in nerve and muscle function.

Do I Need an Electrolyte Panel?

Your healthcare provider may order an electrolyte panel for a number of reasons. They are commonly used in ordinary checkups to gauge overall health. They are also invaluable in monitoring kidney and liver function, checking heart functionality, monitoring glucose levels in diabetic patients, and diagnosing endocrine conditions. Electrolytes serve a host of essential bodily functions, including maintaining proper pH levels, allowing muscle contractions (including the heartbeat), forming new tissues, and assisting in blood clotting. As these functions are vital to a healthy body, an imbalance of electrolytes has the potential to result in serious medical complications. Imbalances are commonly caused by a significant loss in bodily fluids, such as sweating or vomiting. Some immediate symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance are cramps, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and mental confusion. If these symptoms persist after replenishing fluids, it may be worth taking an electrolyte panel to pinpoint what minerals you are deficient in to begin treatment. 

How Should I Prep for an Electrolyte Panel?

Some blood tests require you to fast for a predetermined time leading up to sample collection; however, this is not the case for electrolyte panels. There are no special preparations needed to take this test. Know that results will vary based on which electrolytes do not fall within the normal range. It is important to remember that just because certain electrolyte levels are too high or low does not mean one has a medical emergency requiring treatment. Certain medicines such as antacids or blood pressure medication can impact the results of an electrolyte panel. Often, the patient must replace fluids they've lost through diarrhea and/or vomiting.

How Should I Interpret My Electrolyte Panel Results?

Age, sex, and preexisting health factors can affect your test results. Electrolytes are measured in millimoles per liter (mmol/L). The general normal ranges for each electrolyte are:

  • Bicarbonate: 22 to 30 mmol/L
  • Chloride: 97 to 105 mmol/L
  • Potassium: 3.7 to 5.1 mmol/L
  • Sodium: 136 to 144 mmol/L

While abnormal results can be scary to receive, they are not an immediate cause for concern and can fluctuate regularly. Results are typically more beneficial when examining trends from multiple tests over time. This gives the patient a more comprehensive understanding of their electrolyte levels in the grand scheme of things, as opposed to a single data point. Depending on the result of the electrolyte panel, your healthcare provider may other tests known as "blood gas" and "anion gap" tests. The blood gap test measures oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acidity levels in the blood to locate the cause of an acid-base imbalance. The anion gap test measures the difference between the amount of positively and negatively charged electrolytes in the body. As electrolytes depend on a balance of positive and negative charges to transmit signals throughout the body, an anion gap that is too high or low could signify a more severe health problem.

 

Sources

Balcı, A. K., Koksal, O., Kose, A., Armagan, E., Ozdemir, F., Inal, T., & Oner, N. (2013). General characteristics of patients with electrolyte imbalance admitted to emergency department. World journal of emergency medicine, 4(2), 113.

 

Cabezas, A. C., & Rojas, Y. C. (2006). ELECTROLYTE PANEL TESTS: AN INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR REGISTRATION AND CONSULTATION.

 

Costill, D. L., Cote, R., & Fink, W. (1976). Muscle water and electrolytes following varied levels of dehydration in man. Journal of Applied Physiology, 40(1), 6-11.

 

Maughan, R. J. (1991). Fluid and electrolyte loss and replacement in exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences, 9(S1), 117-142

 

Wathen, J. E., MacKenzie, T., & Bothner, J. P. (2004). Usefulness of the serum electrolyte panel in the management of pediatric dehydration treated with intravenously administered fluids. Pediatrics, 114(5), 1227-1234.

 

 

 

 

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