Having potassium in a normal range is super important to continue living a healthy life. Too much or too low content of this mineral can cause severe health complications, which can cause death in some cases. But the good news is that you can check the potassium levels at a lab or at home and know what’s happening inside the body.
Testing the potassium levels at the lab is understandable. You might now be curious- how to check potassium levels at home?
There are some potassium testing kits available at nearby medical stores and online platforms, which you can buy and use easily. These kits come with a page of instructions, which you have to follow to know the accurate potassium test result. Generally, most of them work like blood sugar testing kits.
If you want to know whether testing at home is better than in the lab, then continue reading!
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Testing Potassium Levels At Home
The potassium test, also known as the Serum potassium test, Urine potassium to Creatinine ratio test, and simply Urine potassium test, is done to check the potassium levels in the blood and urine.
People often wonder- is there a home test to check potassium levels. There are now testing kits manufactured by leading pharmaceutical companies, which you can use easily to know the potassium. They work like blood sugar level measuring machines. All you have to do is give a drop of blood, and the potassium testing kit will do the rest.
In addition, the testing kits also can share the report quickly with you and your doctor as well. In the UK, Vital home testing kits are mostly used to check the potassium levels in the blood at home.
You can also use home potassium test kits CVS, which are easy to use as well. Similarly, there are also potassium urine test strips available that tell the result by checking the urine.
How to Check Potassium Levels At Home: Home vs. Lab
Health Experts recommend doing tests at the lab to get credible results. Knowing about potassium levels is vital for your health. After knowing the results, doctors will recommend what should be your next step to bring the potassium levels to the normal range.
Want to know, what is the normal potassium level range in blood? The normal range of potassium is 3.6 to 5.2 mmol/L.
It is important to have optimal levels of potassium in the body. Potassium is an electrolyte that is necessary for communication in the nervous system. In addition to this, potassium and sodium work together to maintain the fluid level in the body. Moreover, potassium is also crucial for muscles and the heart to work properly.
If the amount of potassium gets disturbed in the blood, cells start to shrink, and you start to feel some problems like vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Real Purpose of Potassium Test?
Why Do doctors recommend potassium tests? Doctors generally recommend a Potassium test when you are feeling the symptoms of Hyperkalemia and Hypokalemia (described later in this article). But there’s more to it!
There are generally three purposes to doing the potassium test:
A potassium test isn’t just a simple medical report. It tells how your kidneys are working as well. If potassium test results are not normal, it means that there is some problem with the kidneys. Moreover, abnormal potassium levels also indicate that your heart may also be on the verge of any cardiovascular disease.
Potassium tests are also done just to monitor the health of the kidneys. It is a part of the routine check-up of the people.
A potassium test is also conducted during the routine body check-up tests called electrolyte panels. However, the electrolyte test is different from the potassium test. So, what is the difference between electrolyte panel test and potassium test?
In the potassium test, the focus is on the levels of potassium. In an electrolyte test, potassium, sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate are also measured.
Doctors also recommend the potassium test for those who have higher chances of cardiovascular and kidney diseases. For example, a person who has persistent high blood pressure or high sugar level will have more chances of having kidney and heart disease in the future.
As mentioned above, Doctors also recommend the potassium test if they suspect that you either have Hyperkalemia or Hypokalemia. Know what they are!
Hyperkalemia is a condition in which potassium levels are high in the body. This generally happens if you keep eating foods that are rich in potassium. The foods rich in potassium are bananas, potatoes, avocadoes, dry fruits, spinach, broccoli, lentils, beets, winter squash, etc.
Moreover, people also take supplements rich in potassium to gain health benefits but end up with Hyperkalemia. Want to know what drugs can cause high potassium levels? ARB, ACE, NSAIDs, Heparin, and some other drugs cause potassium levels to shoot up.
Another big reason why Hyperkalemia happens is when you have a kidney disorder. Kidneys are responsible for filtering out the excess potassium and passing it via Urine. Since the kidney stops working smoothly, the potassium levels start to build up, causing Hyperkalemia.
The other reasons for Hyperkalemia are injuries, burns, type 1 diabetes, and Addison’s disease.
In this disease, you will feel the following things:
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Low energy levels
- Chances of paralysis are also there
Hypokalemia is a condition that appears when you have low potassium levels in the body.
Hypokalemia occurs when you don’t eat foods that have potassium in them, or you exercise heavily and don’t care about the electrolytes in the body.
You will feel the following systems when you have Hypokalemia:
- Low energy levels
- A general feeling of tiredness
- Muscle cramps
What If the Results Don’t Come Normal?
People often ask us, what if my potassium test results don’t come normal? Well, there is nothing to be worried about because we are living in the modern scientific era where people don’t die of small medical conditions.
The prescriptions doctor will recommend, after seeing your results, will take the potassium levels back to normal.
When Should I Take the Potassium test?
You should only take a potassium test when doctors recommend it to you. Some people get this test done after appearing with few symptoms of either Hyperkalemia or Hypokalemia. However, these symptoms can also appear for other reasons too. For example, after a heavy workout session, it is normal to feel fatigued for a few hours.
Similarly, the electrolyte levels (including potassium) decrease after exercise. The reason is the heavy sweating and low hydration. Drinking water or lemonade in this situation will take the potassium levels up again.
Hence, don’t waste your money and only take this test when doctors recommend it.
Is the Potassium Test accurate?
People often have doubts whether the potassium test is reliable or not. Yes, it is credible, and it is the best available option right now to know the potassium levels in the body.
Question: Will I need to do anything before the potassium test?
Answer: No, there is no particular thing you can do before the test. However, if there are more recommended tests than the potassium test, then you will have to stop eating at least five to seven hours before the tests.
Question: Are there any side effects of the Potassium test?
Answer: No, you will only feel a little pain when the doctor sticks a needle into your arm to collect the blood. The pain will last only a few hours and slowly goes away.
Question: How much Does the Potassium test cost?
Answer: The cost of a potassium test depends on various factors, which are the bill of the doctor, fees of the technician, and laboratory evaluation. Moreover, if you have medical insurance, then the potassium test won’t be a burden on your wallet.
Normal potassium levels in the body are super important to continue living a healthy life. Potassium is responsible for fluid maintenance, communication in the nervous system, muscle strength, and to improve heart health. But you must have potassium in the normal range of 3. to 5.2 mmol/L
So, how to check potassium levels at home? There are kits available that check the potassium, just like the sugar testing kits. Follow the instructions page and know the result quickly. But still, we recommend you get tested from the lab as it is more reliable. Nothing is more important than health, so take care of it even if you have to spend more bucks.