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Also known as: Serum phosphorus, inorganic phosphate test, PO4, HPO4, and phosphate blood test.


What is the Phosphorus Blood Test?


A serum phosphorus blood test is the measure of phosphate levels in your blood. Phosphorus is an essential mineral and is vital for the regulation of several body functions. It is present in our body in two phosphate forms and is mainly regulated by the factors that regulate calcium. Almost 85% of the body’s phosphate is stored in bones and teeth, along with calcium, and 14 to 15% is in the cells, while less than 1% is in the blood. The average quantity of phosphorus in the blood represented by both phosphate ions is about 4mg/dl.


The average intake rate of phosphorus is about 1000mg/day. It is present in our foods, and its absorption in the intestine occurs quickly. The body’s phosphate levels are maintained by regulating the amounts absorbed by the gut and excreted by the kidneys. It is also regulated by the action of parathyroid hormone, vitamin D, and calcium. Phosphate helps form substances that are used by the cells for energy.


What is this test used for?


Phosphate levels in the blood may rule out different health conditions. Blood phosphate is more likely checked if you have a disease that causes variation in blood phosphate levels. Typically, the kidneys are responsible for balancing the levels of phosphate in the blood by the excretion of its excess amounts. So, unusual fluctuations in its levels may mean the kidneys are not working correctly. Its abnormal levels can also mean a parathyroid gland dysfunction as parathyroid hormone also helps regulate blood phosphate levels. Some bone disorders can also be marked by varying phosphate levels.


Why and when do you need a phosphorus blood test?


You will most likely be ordered a phosphorus blood test if you are suspected of having a condition involving kidney abnormality, bone issue, or parathyroid gland irregularity. Your doctor can also advise blood phosphorus test if your blood calcium levels have been irregular. Due to these conditions, there will be either too high or low phosphate levels in the blood.


The indications for too low phosphorus levels are;


  • Anxiety or irritability.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Bone pain or fragility.
  • Breathing irregularities.


In most cases, high phosphorus levels don’t cause symptoms.


What kind of sample is required for a phosphorus blood test?


For a phosphorus blood test, a blood draw is done by a healthcare professional who will first find a suitable vein on either the back of your hand or in front of your arm, and after wiping the area with alcohol, insert the needle into the vein, drawing blood. The blood is then stored in a tube attached to the needle and sent to the laboratory to test the phosphorus levels.


Do you need to prepare for the test?


Certain medications affect the levels of phosphate in your blood. It is advised by doctors to stop such medicines before the test to avoid unnecessary alterations in the test results. These medications include;


  • Vitamin D.
  • Antacids.
  • Laxatives.


Intravenous glucose may also not be taken before the procedure. Overnight fasting may also be advised to get accurate measurements.


Are there any risks to the phosphorus blood test?


There are no severe risks in having a blood test. However, people with needle fear may feel uncomfortable while getting the test done. The slight risks of a blood test include a little prick, bruising, and soreness, which goes away soon. If you experience the below-mentioned unusual symptoms, you should immediately contact your doctor;


  • Hematoma.
  • Infection at the puncture site.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Excess bleeding.  


What does the phosphorus blood test result mean?


The usual range of phosphorus varies with age as children need more quantities of phosphorus for their bone growth. Generally, the range of 2.5 to 4.5 mg/dL is considered normal.


Low phosphorus levels:


If your blood phosphate is below the normal range, the cause may be various nutritional factors and other conditions, including;


  • Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Continuous use of antacids.
  • Hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood).
  • Hyperparathyroidism (high amounts of parathyroid hormone stimulate kidneys to excrete larger quantities of phosphate, causing low levels in the bloodstream).
  • Malnutrition.
  • Increased use of diuretics.
  • Alcoholism.


High phosphorus levels:


High blood phosphorus is most commonly caused if you have kidney dysfunction. There are other factors that cause higher levels of phosphorus in the blood;


  • Liver disease.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Increased phosphorus intake.
  • Hypoparathyroidism.
  • High intake of vitamin D.


In rare cases, if you have abnormally high levels of phosphorus in your blood, phosphorus, along with calcium, may form aggregates and deposits in your arteries and sometimes in the muscles.


Related tests:


  • Blood calcium levels.
  • Blood PTH (parathyroid hormone) levels.
  • Vitamin D levels.







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