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    Electrolytes — What Are They? What Happens If You Don't Have Enough?

    We get electrolytes from what we eat and drink. Electrolyte levels are measured in blood tests, and the levels must stay within a fairly small range, or serious problems may arise.

    Electrolytes — What Are They? What Happens If You Don't Have Enough?

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    Monday, August 20, 2018 - 09:05 am

    Faith Addiss, RN, Patient Education Facilitator

    Life & Wellness

    He awoke in a pool of sweat, with numb legs and crushing chest pain.

    ER doctors ruled out heart attack and cardiovascular disease. He felt better, but the leg numbness remained. Wanting to understand what had happened, he asked the specialists what he could do to prevent another frightening episode. “Drink Pedialyte®,” they told him, “and cut back on the green tea.”

    Strange advice? Here’s the explanation: His electrolytes were out of balance, so he needed to take in more of them (by drinking Pedialyte, which contains electrolytes) and stop washing them out of his body (green tea is a diuretic — a substance that causes you to urinate more frequently).

    Fluids and electrolytes are both essential for our cells, organs and body systems to work properly. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals and compounds that help your body do much of its work — producing energy and contracting your muscles, for example. Sodium, chloride, potassium and calcium are all types of electrolytes. (See chart below for more examples.) We get them from what we eat and drink. Electrolyte levels are measured in blood tests, and their levels must stay within a fairly small range, or serious problems may arise.

    What Do Electrolytes Do?

    Electrolytes:

    Regulate the fluid levels in your blood plasma and your body.

    Keep the pH (acid/alkaline) of your blood in the normal range (7.35-7.45, slightly alkaline).

    Enable muscle contractions, including the beating of your heart.

    Transmit nerve signals from heart, muscle and nerve cells to other cells.

    Help blood to clot.

    Help build new tissue.

    What Can Cause an Electrolyte Imbalance?

    An electrolyte imbalance can be caused by:

    Losing fluids as a result of persistent vomiting or diarrhea, sweating or fever.

    Not drinking or eating enough.

    Chronic respiratory problems, such as emphysema.

    Higher-than-normal blood pH (a condition called metabolic alkalosis).

    Medications such as steroids, diuretics and laxatives.

    To ensure that you have enough electrolytes, stay hydrated and eat foods rich in electrolytes, including spinach, turkey, potatoes, beans, avocados, oranges, soybeans (edamame), strawberries and bananas.

    With the exception of sodium*, it's not likely that you'll get too many of any electrolytes from your diet. (The risk may be higher if your kidneys are not working well.) However, supplements can cause problems — for example, too much calcium can increase your risk of kidney stones — so always talk to your doctor before you start to take them.

    *Processed foods and restaurant meals can be very high in sodium.

    Name

    Symbol/Charge Normal Range* Notes

    Sodium Na+

    Hyponatremia Hypernatremia 135-145

    Older folks with chronic illness who have low sodium will have more symptoms than younger, healthy people with the same low sodium level.

    Chloride Cl-

    Hypochloremia Hyperchloremia 96-106

    May not have symptoms unless level changes are severe. Since it is closely tied to sodium, some people have symptoms of hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood).

    Potassium K+

    Hypokalemia Hyperkalemia 3.5-5.5

    Works with sodium to maintain water balance and acid/base balance. With calcium, it regulates nerve and muscle activity.

    Magnesium Mg+2

    Hypomagnesemia Hypermagnesemia 1.7-2.2

    Mostly in bones, with about 1% in extracellular fluid (body fluid outside the cells). Important for enzyme reactions.

    Calcium Ca+2

    Hypocalcemia Hypercalcemia 8.5-10.2

    99% in teeth and bones. Calcium in blood is ionized (carries an electrical charge) and helps regulate cell function, heart rate and blood clotting. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. (Ionized calcium level range is 4.7-5.28.)

    Phosphate/Phosphorus PO4-

    Hypophosphatemia Hyperphosphatemia 2.5–4.5

    Blood tests measure inorganic phosphate. About 85% is in bones; most of the rest is inside cells. Phosphate helps build/repair bones and teeth, stores energy, contracts muscles and enables nerve function. The body needs vitamin D to absorb phosphorus.

    *Ranges may vary by lab.

    Sodium

    Low sodium, also called hyponatremia, causes water to move into cells. High sodium, or hypernatremia, causes fluid to move out of the cells. When either of these things happens in brain cells, it can cause personality changes, headache, confusion and lethargy. If the sodium drop is severe, it can result in seizures, coma and death. A key symptom of hypernatremia is thirst.

    Chloride

    Low chloride (hypochloremia) may be due to excessive vomiting, suctioning of stomach contents, or “loop” diuretic medications, often used to treat fluid retention caused by heart or kidney problems or high blood pressure. High chloride (hyperchloremia) often results from diarrhea or kidney disease.

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    Source : www.roswellpark.org

    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR BODY IS LOW ON ELECTROLYTES? – GOODONYA®

    If you have ever suffered from dehydration, you know just how bad being low on electrolytes can feel. There's a reason for that. Electrolytes are responsible for regulating some critical bodily functions. So critical, in fact, that severe dehydration can cause death. That sounds grim, I know. However, it's vital to und

    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR BODY IS LOW ON ELECTROLYTES?

    NOVEMBER 9, 2020

    If you have ever suffered from dehydration, you know just how bad being low on electrolytes can feel. There's a reason for that. Electrolytes are responsible for regulating some critical bodily functions. So critical, in fact, that severe dehydration can cause death.

    That sounds grim, I know. However, it's vital to understand the importance of staying hydrated. It's not just about drinking some water every day. When your body becomes low on electrolytes, it can impair your body's functions, such as blood clotting, muscle contractions, acid balance, and fluid regulation. Your heart is a muscle, so that means electrolytes help regulate your heartbeat.

    The last thing you want when you are on the field or the track is to have to worry about a looming electrolyte imbalance in your body. You need to know that your body and, most importantly, your heart is armed with what it needs to perform optimally. Drinking HYDRATE, a high quality oral rehydrating solution, is one way to ensure that your electrolyte balance remains in check.

    This article will discuss what electrolytes are, what causes low electrolytes, the symptoms of low electrolytes, and how to replenish them.

    WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?

    Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals and compounds that help your body regulate many critical functions. Some examples of electrolytes include:

    Chloride - works closely with sodium.

    Sodium - causes water to move inside cells.

    Magnesium - important for enzyme reactions

    Calcium - helps regulate cell function, heart rate, and blood clotting.

    Potassium - works with sodium to maintain water balance and acid-base, works with calcium to regulate muscle and nerve activity.

    Phosphate - helps build/repair bones and teeth, stores energy, contracts, muscles, and enables nerve function.

    These minerals and compounds are present in your blood, bodily fluids, and urine and can be replenished by food and drinks that are rich in electrolytes.

    HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED TO REPLENISH MY ELECTROLYTES?

    Your body must maintain proper electrolyte balance to function properly. If you have been sweating profusely or have had prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, your electrolytes can become unbalanced. Other causes include not eating or drinking enough, chronic respiratory problems, or higher than normal pH levels (metabolic alkalosis). Certain medications are also known to affect electrolyte levels, such as diuretics, laxatives, steroids, certain antibiotics, and seizure medications.

    Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include:

    nausea fatigue lethargy vomiting confusion irritability headaches fast heart rate muscle cramping muscle weakness irregular heartbeat abdominal cramping

    numbness and tingling

    convulsions or seizures

    diarrhea or constipation

    Eating foods rich in electrolytes like spinach, turkey, potatoes, beans, avocados, oranges, soybeans (edamame), strawberries, and bananas can help replenish low electrolyte levels. Also, drinking an electrolyte replenishing solution like HYDRATE is very effective. Sports drinks and Pedialyte are often recommended but keep in mind that they contain a lot of sugar that can make vomiting or diarrhea worse.

    WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE?

    Hyponatremia or low sodium levels is the most commonly treated electrolyte imbalance in the emergency room. Hyponatremia can occur from an underlying medical disorder, kidney disease, hormonal changes, or from drinking too much water.

    Sodium plays many important roles in your body. It helps maintain normal blood pressure, regulates how your nerves and muscles work, and regulates your body's fluid balance. When your sodium becomes diluted, the body's fluid levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause mild to life-threatening health problems.

    Symptoms of hyponatremia may include:

    Coma Seizures Headache Confusion Nausea and vomiting

    Restlessness and irritability

    Muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps

    Loss of energy, drowsiness, and fatigue

    You risk diluting your sodium if you drink too much water without replenishing your electrolytes. This is one of the benefits of drinking an oral rehydrating solution. It balances out the amount of water you drink by restoring electrolyte levels.

    Sports drinks can also replenish levels of electrolytes; however, the trade-off is extremely high levels of sugar and low-quality processed electrolytes. If you have diabetes and need to keep your glucose levels in check this can be a big problem. An oral rehydrating solution such as HYDRATE replenishes electrolytes without diluting sodium. HYDRATE only contains one gram of sugar from dehydrated lemon juice so you can maintain normal levels of electrolytes without sending your glucose levels throughout the roof.

    WRAP UP

    Staying hydrated involves more than just drinking water. It also means maintaining the delicate balance of electrolytes that your body depends on to function properly. If you are engaging in strenuous exercise and sweating profusely, then you need more than just water. Drink water and HYDRATE to replenish your electrolyte levels with healthy, whole, organic ingredients that are hand-selected for purity and quality.

    Source : goodonyaorganic.com

    What Happens When Your Body Is Low on Electrolytes? Causes & Imbalance

    Electrolytes are essential in regulating critical bodily functions. Learn about the 8 roles of electrolytes, and the effect of low electrolytes on the body.

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    Causes of Electrolyte Imbalances

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    The role of electrolytes in the body includes prevent cells from shrinking or swelling, enable normal muscle contraction and relaxation, maintain normal blood pressure, maintain normal rhythm and rate of the heart, and more.

    Electrolytes are essential in regulating critical bodily functions. When your body is low on electrolytes, whether it’s due to vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration, it can impair these crucial functions and lead to significant discomfort.

    The role of electrolytes in the body include the following:

    Prevent cells from shrinking or swelling

    Enable normal muscle contraction and relaxation

    Maintain normal blood pressure

    Maintain normal rhythm and rate of the heart

    Maintain blood pH in the normal range (7.35 to 7.45, slightly alkaline)

    Maintain brain health and orientation

    Assist blood clotting

    Transmit nerve signals from heart, muscle, and nerve cells to other cells

    Table: Effect of low electrolytes on the body

    Electrolyte Imbalance Normal levels (mEq/L) Effect of low levels

    Hyponatremia (Low sodium 135-145 Weakness Headache Low blood pressure Confusion Lethargy Thirst

    Severe sodium loss can result in seizures, coma, and death

    Hypocalcemia (Low calcium) 8.5-10.2 Muscle irritability

    Twitches or tics over face or limb muscles

    Cramps (particularly in legs and back)

    Severely low calcium level causes muscle spasms, spasms of the larynx (voice box) and seizures

    Abnormal heart rhythms, atrial fibrillation may also be seen

    Heart blocks may be observed

    Hypokalemia (Low potassium) 3.5-5.5 Muscle weakness

    Temporary limb paralysis

    Distension of abdomen

    Loss of normal intestinal movements

    Breathing problems

    Sudden stopping of the heart

    Abnormal heart rhythm

    Kidney problems Hypomagnesemia (Low magnesium) 1.7-2.2

    Loss of appetite nausea

    Fatigue Weakness Muscle aches

    As magnesium deficiency worsens:

    Numbness Tingling Muscle contractions Cramps Seizures

    Personality changes such as irritability

    Abnormal heart rhythms

    Hypochloremia

    (Low chloride levels)

    96-106 Weakness Fatigue

    Breathing difficulties

    Hypophosphatemia

    (Low phosphate levels)

    2.5-4.5 Muscle weakness In severe cases: Respiratory failure Heart failure Seizures and coma

    What causes electrolyte imbalances?

    Electrolytes and water in your body are regulated by your kidneys, lungs, and hormones. However, various conditions can cause electrolyte levels in your body to become imbalanced. Although mild imbalances may go undetected, extreme electrolyte imbalances can cause heart and kidney kidneys and in some cases even be life-threatening. Both infants and the elderly are particularly at risk of the dangers of an electrolyte imbalance.

    Table: Causes of electrolyte imbalances

    Causes Symptoms Treatment

    Loss of body fluids Vomiting Diarrhea Stomach flu Fever Excessive sweating Heatstroke

    Shock due to blood loss

    Replace fluids with oral rehydration solutions or clear liquids

    Replace fluids intravenously with saline or Ringer’s lactate

    Medications Laxative overuse Steroid use Diuretics Chemotherapy Digitalis Alcohol poisoning

    Stop medications under supervision if possible

    Replace fluids and electrolytes orally or intravenously

    Hormonal diseases

    Diabetic ketoacidosis

    Addison’s disease Thyroid disorders

    Treat hormonal imbalances

    Replace fluids and electrolytes orally or intravenously

    Other conditions Emphysema Kidney failure Ingestion of toxins

    Environmental poisons

    Sepsis Severe burns

    Treat the root cause

    Undergo dialysis to filter out toxins

    Replace fluids and electrolytes orally or intravenously

    Psychiatric causes Anorexia Bulimia

    Replace fluids and electrolytes orally or intravenously

    Consume calories as needed

    Psychiatric counseling is recommended

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    Dehydration in Adults & Children

    Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water. There are a number of causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged vigorous exercise, and some diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of dehydration include headache, lightheadedness, constipation, and bad breath. Treatment for dehydration is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.

    Source : www.medicinenet.com

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