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A potassium test measures how much potassium is in the urine. Potassium is both an electrolyte and a mineral. It helps balance the amounts of water and electrolytes in the body. (Water is the amount of fluid inside and outside the body's cells.) It is also important in how nerves and muscles work.
Potassium levels often change with sodium levels. When sodium levels go up, potassium levels go down. When sodium levels go down, potassium levels go up. These levels are also affected by a hormone called aldosterone. This hormone is made by the adrenal glands.
Potassium levels can be affected by how the kidneys are working, the blood pH, and the amount of potassium you eat. The hormone levels in your body, severe vomiting, and taking certain medicines such as diuretics and potassium supplements can also affect the levels. Certain cancer treatments that destroy cancer cells can also raise potassium levels.
Many foods are rich in potassium. Some examples are potatoes, bananas, prunes, orange juice, and winter squash. A balanced diet has enough potassium for the body's needs. But if your levels get low, it can take some time for your body to start holding on to potassium.
A potassium level that is too high or too low can be serious. Abnormal levels may cause symptoms such as muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, diarrhea, or frequent urination. Other symptoms may include dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, irritability, paralysis, and changes in heart rhythm.
A urine test to check potassium levels is done to look for the cause of a low or high blood potassium test result.
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
Urine potassium can be checked in a single urine sample. But it is more often measured in a 24-hour urine sample.
This test usually doesn't cause any pain or discomfort.
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test.
Results are ready in 1 day.
Each lab has a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should show the range that your lab uses for each test. The normal range is just a guide. Your doctor will also look at your results based on your age, health, and other factors. A value that isn't in the normal range may still be normal for you.
Many conditions can affect potassium levels. Your doctor will talk with you about any abnormal results as they relate to your symptoms and past health.
Current as of: June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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