How is covert diuretic or laxative use identified in patients with hypokalemia (low potassium level)?

Updated: Dec 06, 2018
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

If covert diuretic or laxative use is suspected, establishing proof of this is best accomplished in the hospital, with patients in a relatively controlled environment. In this setting, 24-hour urine measurements of sodium and potassium excretion, measurement of serum potassium at frequent intervals, and supervision of intake and output are possible. Ongoing potassium losses in the face of a negative urine and serum screen for diuretics suggest another diagnosis.


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