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A test for potassium in the urine is a test that checks how much potassium is in the urine. Potassium is both an electrolyte and a mineral. It helps keep the water (the amount of fluid inside and outside the body's cells) and electrolyte balance of the body. Potassium 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, and when sodium levels go down, potassium levels go up. Potassium levels are also affected by a hormone called aldosterone, which is made by the adrenal glands.
Potassium levels can be affected by how the kidneys are working, the blood pH, the amount of potassium you eat, the hormone levels in your body, severe vomiting, and taking certain medicines, such as diuretics and potassium supplements. Certain cancer treatments that destroy cancer cells can also make potassium levels high.
Many foods are rich in potassium, including scallops, potatoes, figs, bananas, prune juice, orange juice, and squash. A balanced diet has enough potassium for the body's needs. But if your potassium levels get low, it can take some time for your body to start holding on to potassium. In the meantime, potassium is still passed in the urine, so you may end up with very low levels of potassium in your body, which can be dangerous.
A potassium level that is too high or too low can be serious. Abnormal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, irritability, paralysis, and changes in heart rhythm.
A urine test to check potassium levels is done to:
You do not need to do anything before having this test.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
Urine potassium can be checked in a single urine sample but it is more often measured in a 24-hour urine sample.
There is no discomfort in collecting a one-time or 24-hour urine sample.
There is no chance for problems in collecting a one-time or 24-hour urine sample.
A test for potassium in the urine is a 24-hour test or a one-time (spot) test that checks how much potassium is in the urine. Potassium is both an electrolyte and a mineral.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Results are ready in 1 day.
25–125 milliequivalents (mEq) per day (24 hours) or 25–125 millimoles (mmol) per day (24 hours)
10–60 mEq per day (24 hours) or 10–60 mmol per day (24 hours)
Many conditions can affect potassium levels. Your doctor will talk with you about any abnormal results that may be related to your symptoms and past health.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
CitationsFischbach F, Dunning MB III (2015). A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 9th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health.Other Works ConsultedChernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerAvery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
Current as ofApril 14, 2015
Current as of: April 14, 2015
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
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