Electrolytes

Definition

Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge.

Electrolytes affect how your body functions in many ways, including:

You lose electrolytes when you sweat. You must replace them by drinking fluids that contain electrolytes. Water does not contain electrolytes.

Common electrolytes include:

Electrolytes can be acids, bases, or salts. They can be measured by different blood tests. Each electrolyte can be measured separately, such as:

Note: Serum is the part of blood that doesn't contain cells.

Sodium, potassium, and chloride levels can also be measured as part of a basic metabolic panel. A more complete test, called comprehensive metabolic panel, can test for these several more electrolytes.

The electrolytes - urine test measures electrolytes in urine. It test the levels of calcium, chloride, potassium, sodium, and other electrolytes.


Review Date: 8/29/2015
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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