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The functioning of cells depends a lot on certain small chemicals named electrolytes. These electrolytes play an essential role in the functioning of cells. A lot of electrolytes exist but some have a bigger role to play than others and potassium is one such electrolyte. The Serum contains no more than 2% of the total amount of potassium of the body. Serum is a fluid part of the bloodstream that is neither red nor white blood cells. A simple minor change of potassium levels in the serum can have a huge impact on the way the body functions. The experts claim that the most significant role of potassium is to maintain the electrical potential of the cells.

How are Levels of Potassium Tested

Potassium can be found in various foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and juices. Bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, avocados, greens, mushrooms, peas, tomatoes, beef, turkey, fish and orange, prune, apricot and grapefruit juices have high amounts of this electrolyte in them.

A potassium test will tell just how much potassium there is in the blood. Sodium levels affect the levels of potassium quite a lot. When the levels of sodium are high, the levels of potassium are low. On the other hand, when the levels of sodium go down, potassium levels go up. A certain hormone made in adrenal glands called aldosterone affects the levels of potassium as well. Apart from these two, there are many other ways in which a person can hurt his or her potassium levels. The functioning of the kidneys, the blood pH, the amount of potassium eaten, hormone levels, taking certain medications and even severe vomiting can influence the levels of potassium. Potassium levels need to be in perfect balance, neither too high nor too low. If the levels become too low or too high certain symptoms may occur. Some of the most often seen symptoms are muscle cramps, weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, paralysis and even changes in heart rhythm.

Levels of potassium are checked by a blood test. Various reasons why the test needs to be performed exist. The levels are checked in those who are being treated with medicines like diuretics. Those who are on a treatment plan due to high or low levels or potassium are tested in order to be seen whether the treatment works. A person who has high blood pressure benefits from the test because that way it is seen whether he or she has kidney or adrenal glands problems. The effects of extra nutrition are also checked with a blood test. Before the test is being performed, there is no need for a person to do anything special in order to prepare for the test.

Before putting the needle into the vein, the doctor will wrap an elastic band around the upper arm of the patient in order to stop the blood flow. The main reason why this is done is for the veins below the band to become more visible. The site where the needle will enter is then cleaned with alcohol. After that, the needle is put into the vein. In some situation more than one stick is required. Once the needle is in the vein, the doctor will attach a tube to it in order to fill it with blood. The band is removed when enough blood is collected. After the needle is removed, gauze or a cotton ball is placed over the site where needle was inserted and a bandage is placed to put pressure.

Even though the chance of certain risk occurring is extremely small, it is still possible. A tiny bruise at the site is the most often seen risk. A swollen vein can occur as well but that rarely happens. Those who suffer from bleeding disorders may experience an ongoing bleeding and should mention the problem to the doctor before the blood is taken.

Good Blood Levels Importance

Poor dietary intake is not one of the main reasons for low levels of potassium. The loss occurs from the kidneys and from the gastrointestinal tract. Vomiting, diarrhea, the use of laxative, ileostomy and villous adenoma are the main reasons for the loss of potassium from the intestines. Diuretic medications, high levels of corticosteroids or aldosterone, renal tubular acidosis and low levels of magnesium are the factors that lead to loss of potassium from the kidneys.

The way in which neuromuscular cells discharge energy and then regenerate it back again is affected by the loss of potassium. If the cells are not able to fire repeatedly and repolarize again, the function of muscles and nerves is affected.

Apart from treatment for low levels of potassium, there are ways a person can prevent that from occurring. The best possible way to achieve that goal is to follow a properly balanced diet. Getting to know as much as possible about hypokalemia is vital as well.

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