Potassium (K) in Urine

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A urine potassium test is 24-hour test or a one-time spot test that examines how much potassium your urine contains. Potassium is both an electrolyte and a mineral. It helps keep the amount of fluid (water) inside and outside the body's cells and electrolyte balance of the body. Potassium is also a key part in how muscles and nerves work.

The body's potassium concentration can be affected by how the kidneys are working, the hormone levels in patient's body, the amount of potassium patient eat, severe vomiting, the blood pH, and taking certain medications. Certain cancer treatments destroying cancer cells also make potassium levels high.

Potassium levels usually change in response of sodium levels. When sodium levels increased, potassium levels go down, and when sodium levels reduced, potassium levels go up. Potassium concentration is also affected by aldosterone hormone that is made by the adrenal glands.

Abnormal potassium level can be serious. Greater or lower than normal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as frequent urination, dehydration, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, confusion, muscle cramps or weakness, irritability, paralysis, and heart failure.

The food products that are rich in potassium: figs, bananas, scallops, potatoes, prune juice, orange juice, and squash. A balanced nutrition has enough potassium for the body's needs. But potassium is passed in the urine even if the concentration in the body is low, so the level of potassium can get lower.

The urine potassium test performed to examine:
·How well the kidneys are working.  
·Whether treatment for low or high potassium levels is working.  
·Whether high blood pressure may cause a problem with kidneys or adrenal glands.  
·The effects of extra nutrition on potassium levels.  
·Whether certain cancer treatments are causing too many cells to be destroyed. Cell lysis syndrome causes very high electrolytes levels.  

Test results
Very high potassium levels indicate hyperkalemia. Increased levels may also indicate the following health problems:
·Addison's disorder  
·injury to tissue  
·acute or chronic kidney failure  
·excessive dietary potassium intake (for example, fruits are particularly high in potassium, so excessive intake of fruits or juices may contribute to high potassium)  
·excessive intravenous potassium intake  
Some medications can also cause hyperkalemia in some patients. Among them are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin); beta blockers (propanolol and atenolol), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (captopril, enalapril, and lisinopril), and potassium-sparing diuretics (triamterene, amiloride, and spironolactone).
Low levels of potassium indicate hypokalemia. Low levels may occur in a number of conditions like the following:
·deficient potassium intake (rare)  
·as a complication of acetaminophen overdose  
Potassium may fall after diabetes patient takes insulin, particularly if patient's diabetes had been out of control for some time. Low potassium is mostly due to diuretics, if patient takes these, doctor will check the potassium level frequently.
In addition, some medications such as corticosteroids, beta-adrenergic agonists such as isoproterenol, alpha-adrenergic antagonists such as clonidine, antibiotics such as gentamicin and carbenicillin, and the antifungal agent amphotericin B can cause of low potassium levels.
The potassium test in urine may be performed in the workup of hypokalemia. In case of renal loss of potassium, the urine potassium levels will be high. Low levels of urine potassium are also seen in hypoaldosteronism and adrenal insufficiency.

Also you should know
The following reasons may affect the test results:
·Taking potassium supplements.  
·Taking medicines, such as antibiotics that contain potassium (penicillin), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, heparin, insulin, glucose, corticosteroids, diuretics, medicines used to treat high blood pressure and heart disorder, and natural licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).  
·The overuse of laxatives.  
·Severe vomiting.  

All information on this page is intended for your general knowledge only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.