Electrolyte Stool Test
The Electrolyte Stool Test measures certain electrolytes' concentration (osmolality) in a stool sample to determine the cause of chronic diarrhea.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Electrolyte Stool Test, which measures certain electrolytes' concentration (osmolality) in a stool sample to determine the cause of watery stools. Electrolytes are minerals that help manage fluid levels in the body, regulate acid-base balance, and stimulate the function of muscles and nerves. The amount of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride in the stool can affect its consistency and lead to chronic diarrhea.
Some common electrolytes include:
- Sodium - is an electrolyte with a positive electric charge that plays a critical role in managing fluid levels in the body. In addition, it stimulates normal nerve and muscle functions.
- Potassium - has a positive electric charge and is essential for many cells, muscles, and nerve functions.
- Chloride - has a negative electric charge and operates with other electrolytes to manage fluid levels and the acid-base balance in the body.
What conditions are associated with chronic diarrhea?
Short-term (acute) diarrhea often clears up within a few days. Whereas it's considered chronic diarrhea when the watery stools last more than four weeks. Several disorders and medications can cause chronic diarrhea:
- Parasitic, bacterial, or viral infections
- Intestinal diseases (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Thyroid disease
- Weak immune system
- Previous abdominal surgery
- Medicines, such as antibiotics, chemotherapy medicines, and laxatives
When should I get an Electrolyte Stool Test?
An individual may order this test to help determine the cause of chronic diarrhea or an electrolyte imbalance. Common symptoms related to chronic diarrhea or an electrolyte imbalance may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Fluid accumulation (edema)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle twitching, cramps, or paralysis
- Irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmias)
Individuals may order this Electrolyte Stool Test to help screen for a fluid or acid and base imbalance that may be causing specific symptoms, aid in monitoring response to imbalance treatments, and detect the side effects of certain medications.
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