This test measures the amount of potassium in your child’s blood. Potassium is one of several chemicals in the blood called electrolytes. Electrolytes help control the amount of fluid in the body and the way the muscles, nerves, and organs work, including the heart. Your child needs the right balance of potassium and other electrolytes to stay healthy. For example, too much or too little potassium in the blood could cause serious problems with your child’s heartbeat. The balance of electrolytes in the body can be affected by food, medicines, drinking too much or too little water, or problems with the lungs, kidneys and other organs.
Your child can get potassium from food and supplements. Most children get all the potassium they need from what they eat and drink. Sources of potassium in the diet include
The potassium level is usually measured along with several other electrolytes to help diagnose certain diseases or conditions. The test can be helpful for checking problems with the kidneys, adrenal glands, digestive system, muscles, and nerves.
This test may also be done to see how well treatment for a disease or condition is working or, if your child is hospitalized, to see if your child is getting the right mix of IV fluids. Some medicines can cause the potassium level to go up or down. Other medicines, such as digoxin, don't work well if the potassium level isn't normal.
Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.
Ask your healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of the test.
Some of the reasons your child’s potassium level may be higher than normal are:
Some of the reasons your child’s potassium level may be lower than normal are:
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about the results and ask questions, such as: