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Electrolytes

  • Definition
    • Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge.

      Electrolytes affect how your body functions in many ways, including:

      • The amount of water in your body
      • The acidity of your blood (pH)
      • Your muscle function
      • Other important processes

      You lose electrolytes when you sweat. You must replace them by drinking fluids that contain electrolytes. Water does not contain electrolytes.

      Common electrolytes include:

      • Calcium
      • Chloride
      • Magnesium
      • Phosphorus
      • Potassium
      • Sodium

      Electrolytes can be acids, bases, or salts. They can be measured by different blood tests. Each electrolyte can be measured separately, such as:

      Note: Serum is the part of blood that doesn't contain cells.

      Sodium, potassium, and chloride levels can also be measured as part of a basic metabolic panel. A more complete test, called comprehensive metabolic panel, can test for these several more electrolytes.

      The electrolytes - urine test measures electrolytes in urine. It test the levels of calcium, chloride, potassium, sodium, and other electrolytes.

  • References
    • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Electrolytes panel - blood. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:464-467.

      DuBose TD. Disorders of acid-base balance. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, et al, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philiadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap16.