You’ve probably seen the sports drink commercials that tout the benefits of their products’ high concentration of electrolytes. These are minerals that your body needs to regulate water, making them essential for kidney function.
Fortunately, if you understand the significance of electrolytes and how to balance them, you can prevent a kidney disorder and certain kidney conditions in the future. That’s why Commonwealth Nephrology Associates takes time to educate patients to help keep their kidneys healthy.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes include minerals that have an electric charge. Some examples of electrolytes are chloride, phosphate, potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. You can find them in your urine, blood, and tissue, and you take them in through the foods and beverages you consume. Electrolytes are necessary to regulate the amount of water in your body. That’s why it’s necessary to balance them for proper kidney function.
They’re also needed to balance your pH level, which is your body’s base/acid level. You also need electrolytes to move nutrients into your cells and waste out of them. Major organs like your heart and brain need them to function and so do your muscles and nerves.
Signs of an Electrolyte Imbalance
Since these minerals are necessary for various body functions, you may develop a number of symptoms if you don’t have enough. For instance, your cardiovascular system requires electrolytes to function. When you don’t have enough, you could develop an irregular heartbeat, such as tachycardia (too rapid of a heart rate). You may experience changes in your blood pressure, as well. For example, calcium, magnesium, and sodium imbalances can all lead to a decrease or increase in blood pressure.
An electrolyte imbalance can cause you to feel fatigued. You could also develop headaches, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea. Electrolytes affect your brain function, as well. If your levels aren’t balanced, you could experience confusion. It can also affect your mood and make you irritable. You may develop muscle pains, weakness, or cramping from an electrolyte disorder because your muscles need electrolytes to be healthy.
In the more serious cases, you could experience a heart attack or seizures. Some people even go into a coma as the result of an electrolyte imbalance. Keep in mind that you can experience side effects of an electrolyte imbalance if your levels are too high or too low. The symptoms are similar and affect the same areas of the body.
Consequences of Prolonged Electrolyte Imbalances
An electrolyte imbalance doesn’t just have short-term symptoms or consequences. When you have chronic electrolyte imbalances, your bones can weaken, and it can affect your eyes. You also put yourself at a greater risk for heart-related complications, such as heart attack. The imbalance can also cause acute kidney failure or chronic kidney failure in the long run.
Tips for Balancing Electrolytes
In order to prevent an electrolyte imbalance, you should consume a well-balanced, nutritious diet. This helps you obtain adequate levels of electrolytes. You also want to drink ample amounts of fluids. While you should drink fluids throughout the day, you should listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, drink more. Keep in mind that you may need more water if you exercise regularly, are pregnant, or are sick. Visit your practitioner regularly. Have your blood tested routinely to check your electrolyte levels and make lifestyle and nutritional adjustments according to the results.
Why Choose Our Commonwealth Nephrology Nephrologists for Your Kidney Problems?
At Commonwealth Nephrology Associates, we can help you manage and prevent chronic kidney conditions as well as issues such as electrolyte imbalances. We strive to deliver high-quality, effective, and compassionate care to every patient.
Book an appointment with Commonwealth Nephrology Associates, serving Norfolk, Natick, and the nearby areas, for management of acute and chronic kidney issues. Call us at (617) 739-2100, or use our online scheduling tool.