Does this test have other names?
Electrolyte panel, Lytes, sodium (Na), potassium (K), chloride (Cl), carbon dioxide (CO2)
What is this test?
This test measures the main electrolytes in your body: sodium, chloride, potassium, and carbon dioxide.
The cells in your body carefully balance fluids and electrolytes, which are electrically charged minerals. Electrolytes move fluid in and out of your cells. They carry nutrients into the cells and waste products back out. Electrolytes also help keep your water level normal and your pH level stable. In other words, they help the acids and bases in your blood stay in balance.
Electrolytes in blood and tissues are in the form of salts. You get electrolytes from the food you eat and fluids you drink.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test if you feel confused, nauseated, and weak. These are often signs that your body's electrolytes may be out of balance.
If you are in the hospital, your healthcare provider may order an electrolyte panel to help make a diagnosis or rule out other problems. You may also need this test if your healthcare provider wants to monitor your treatment for another condition. For example, heart failure can cause an electrolyte imbalance, so patients in the hospital for heart failure may have this test to see whether treatment is working.
You may also have this test if you have:
Chronic kidney disease
You may also have your electrolytes tested if you're taking diuretics or other medicines that cause you to lose water.
Your healthcare providers may also order this test if you collapse while playing sports or exercising, or if you are hospitalized for a heat-related illness. Because you lose electrolytes as you sweat, dehydration can sometimes lead to a dangerous electrolyte imbalance.