Jul 25, 2022

Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance and What You Can Do

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Electrolytes are vital for key life functions. They help regulate blood plasma and bodily fluid levels. They maintain normal pH levels in the blood and help with the blood clotting mechanism. Electrolytes stimulate muscles to contract, so they help the heart to beat. They also relay messages between the heart, nerve cells, muscles, and other cells. They even help new tissue to form.

For these functions to occur properly, the body requires the proper levels of electrolytes — not too little or too much. According to one study on the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance, an imbalance in the body's level of electrolytes can impede its normal functioning and lead to a variety of complications from mild to severe. 

Knowing the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance to watch out for and the simple ways to correct and prevent it can help you avoid these health risks. 

Correct and Prevent Electrolyte Imbalances

Symptoms of Electrolytes Imbalance

Electrolytes affect nearly every system of the body, which means the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance can appear in any and every system of the body. Common symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include:

  • Confusion or delirium
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting

Electrolyte imbalances can also cause alkalosis, which is a condition marked by imbalanced carbon dioxide levels in the blood and an imbalanced pH. Similar to and often associated with altitude sickness, it can produce a rapid heart rate, vomiting, and an inability to exercise. 

A severe electrolytes imbalance can lead to:

  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Myoglobinuria
  • Rhabdomyolysis (or Rhabdo)

Sodium Imbalance

Sodium is one of the most important electrolytes. The body utilizes it for many key functions. It helps control blood volume and blood pressure. Your body also needs it for your nerves and muscles to function properly. Too much sodium, however, can be just as dangerous as too little.

Hyponatremia

Insufficient sodium levels in the blood can cause hyponatremia, the most common electrolyte-related disorder. Symptoms include:

  • Low energy, sluggishness, and fatigue
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle twitching or seizures

If hyponatremia goes untreated and worsens, it could lead to serious illness, disability, or even death. 

Hypernatremia

When sodium levels in the blood are too high, it can cause hypernatremia, with symptoms like:

  • Shallow, rapid breathing (medically known as tachypnea)
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia

What You Can Do to Prevent or Correct an Electrolyte Imbalance

The key to preventing electrolyte imbalance is to stay properly hydrated. The key to correcting electrolyte imbalance is to restore proper hydration levels.

Drink Water

The best and most obvious way to stay hydrated is to drink water. However, don’t just guzzle a quart at once and consider that proper hydration. Drink small amounts at regular intervals throughout the day. Start by drinking water when you wake up in the morning to replace water lost overnight as you sweated and evaporated water in your breath while you slept. 

Drinking water frequently in small amounts also helps your body absorb more of the water you drink and waste less. When you make the water you drink more efficient at hydrating you, you don’t need to drink as much. 

If you exercise, whether through cardiovascular movements like running or strength-building routines like weight training, be sure to drink extra water. Drink some before, during, and after your workout. 

If you get tired of drinking all that plain water, hydrating alternatives include coconut water and sports drinks containing electrolytes. You can add fruits or vegetables like lemon or cucumber to the water to add some appealing flavor. Or, you can try out the next suggestion.

a woman drinking water from a reusable water bottle

shutterstock/Maridav

Add Electrolyte Powder

One of the simplest ways to help keep your body hydrated and restore hydration when dehydrated is with hydration capsules containing a comprehensive mix of powerful electrolytes. These electrolytes can help you absorb more of the water you drink and, therefore, reap the maximum benefits of that hydration. What’s more, by doing so, you can drink less and still reap the desired benefits.

Shop Our Variety of Electrolyte Powders

Conclusion

Electrolyte imbalances can lead to a host of avoidable health risks. The risk of electrolyte imbalance can be particularly high in high-risk conditions and circumstances, such as during strenuous physical activity in hot weather or after experiencing diarrhea or vomiting. One of the most effective and efficient ways to avoid electrolyte imbalances is to stay hydrated. Start yourself on the path to proper hydration and correct and prevent electrolyte imbalances by exploring the electrolyte powders and capsules at Key Nutrients.

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