What is Potassium?
Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that supports muscle/nerve communication and electrical activity in the body. Potassium levels need to stay in careful balance to prevent side effects of hyperkalemia (too much potassium) or hypokalemia (too little potassium).
Serum potassium levels are measured as part of a metabolic blood panel. Doctors may look closely at potassium levels if a patient shows signs of kidney disease, heart disease or some metabolic conditions like diabetes.
Normal Value Range
- Negative Pregnancy Adult: 3.5 to 5 mEq/dL or 3.5 to 5 mmol/L
- Pregnancy Trimester One: 3.6 to 5 mEq/dL or 3.6 to 5 mmol/L
- Pregnancy Trimester Two: 3.3 to 5 mEq/dL or 3.3 to 5 mmol/L
- Pregnancy Trimester Three: 3.3 to 5.1 mEq/dL or 3.3 to 5.1 mmol/L
If potassium levels are higher than normal it could mean kidney failure, tissue injury, diabetes, infection or dehydration. Low levels are often measured in patients with potassium deficiency, hyperaldosteronism and some gastro disorders that cause fluid loss (vomiting or diarrhea).
Medications can also affect potassium levels. Beta blockers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may increase potassium levels while diuretics tend to decrease levels.