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Phosphate, P, PO4

Phosphorus

Abnormal phosphorus levels in the blood do not usually cause any particular symptoms, except in certain extreme conditions. In the differential diagnosis of calcium level abnormalities, a phosphate level measurement is generally ordered at the same time as a calcium level test, and sometimes at the same time as parathyroid hormone (PTH) and Vitamin D tests. Blood phosphate level is controlled by dietary intake (including supplements) and by proper kidney and parathyroid gland function.

Higher than normal phosphate levels are found mainly in the presence of kidney disease, liver disease, underactive parathyroid glands, Vitamin D intoxication, or excessive dietary intake of phosphates caused by supplements.

In outpatients, lower blood phosphate levels may be caused by overactive parathyroid glands, some diuretics, malnutrition, or alcoholism. Underactive thyroid glands, Vitamin D deficiency causing rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults (two bone disorders), chronic use of antacids, or a potassium or magnesium deficiency may also be involved.

Term of the Week

Hot zone

A hot zone is a section of a facility (sometimes an entire facility or even a city district) where there is a high risk of contamination by patients with an infectious disease. All individuals entering a hot zone must respect appropriate protective measures. By analogy, “cold zone” and “warm zone” are used to refer to areas where there is no infected individual or only individuals suspected of having an infection.