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Mom needs help

hello i am a mom of two small kids and i need a quick way to learn not memorize labs for the normal ranges of sodium, potassium, calcium,bicarbonate, pH, and the results of these being abnormal such as hypercalciuma, hyper............ and the list goes on. Any suggestions would be great.

Daytonite, BSN, RN

Has 40 years experience. Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

i had to learn all these for my national crni (certified rn intravenous) exam. they were actually given in the test preparation booklet. when they were listed out like that there were one or two things that kind of stuck out as being similar, but that, to me, was only something that meant anything as far as memorizing them went. it is much better to learn the concepts behind these. flash cards come to mind. flash cards that you just never throw away and that you periodically review all through nursing school and up to taking the nclex.

i think i know what you are getting at with the abnormals--acidosis and alkalosis! if you remember that a ph of 7.4 is the line of marcation between acidosis and alkalosis you're halfway there, pun intended! think of the "k" in alkalosis as kicking the ph up and the "d" in acidosis causing the ph to go down and you'll remember which one is higher than 7.4 and which is lower than 7.4. potassium is elevated in acidosis and depressed in alkalosis.

the acid-base mnemonic most popularly used is rome for respiratory opposite metabolic equal. what this means is that in respiratory alkalosis ph goes up and pco2 goes down; in respiratory acidosis ph goes down and pco2 goes up (they change in opposition to each other). in metabolic alkalosis ph and hco3 both go up; in metabolic acidosis ph and hco3 both go down (they change equally in relation to each other).

calcium is always in an inverse relationship with phosphorus. normal serum calcium is 9.0 to 10.5 mg/dl. normal serum phosphorus is 2.5 to 4.7 mg/dl. as one goes up, the other goes down and vice versa.

those are the major features of interrelationships between the electrolytes. outside of that it's just a matter of memorizing the numbers. as for learning the medical terminology connected to them, i don't know of any way to learn those except to memorize them (using flash cards). most of them are pretty straightforward with the word root for each particular electrolyte pretty much being the same as the name of the chemical. sometimes the latin name for the chemical is used, as in natron for sodium, kalium for potassium, ferrum for iron, cuprum for copper and kapnos (latin for smoke) for carbon dioxide. attaching the prefix hyper- or hypo- will give you the elevated or deficient condition you want. so:

  • hyponatremia/hypernatremia [sodium]
  • hypokalemia/hyperkalemia [potassium] can also be hypopotassemia/hyperpotassemia
  • hypochloremia/hyperchloremia [chloride]
  • hypocalcemia/hypercalcemia [calcium]
  • hypophosphatemia/hyperphosphatemia [phosphates]
  • hypocapnia/hypercapnia [carbon dioxide]
  • hypocupremia/hypercupremia [copper]
  • hypoferremia/hyperferremia [iron]
  • hypoxemia/hyperoxia [oxygen]
  • hypomagnesemia/hypermagnesemia [magnesium]

here are sites where you can get the normal values as well as an explanation about the various lab tests. you might want to bookmark them for future reference:

I remember things by association...i know this isnt want you were asking for, but stuff like Vitamin K is for clotting....its vitamin K, and clotting sounds like it starts with a K....does this make sense? or another example is the drug doxorubicin turns urine red...it has RUB in it, like ruby..rubys are red...red urine...for some people that is way too much thinking but thats the only way i can remember it! hope this helps! it helps to get creative and have fun too! :monkeydance:

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