Causes of electrolyte imbalance in the body

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: December 18, 2015

First let’s start with the most basic question – What is an electrolyte?

Electrolytes are minerals in your blood (such as sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium and calcium) and other body fluids that carry an electric charge. Ingested with food intake, they affect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle function, and other important processes.

Electrolyte imbalances can cause a wide range of symptoms, some mild and some potentially life threatening. Electrolyte imbalances are commonly caused by loss of fluids through prolonged diarrhea, vomiting, sweating or high fever.

Electrolyte imbalances can go in either direction – Hypo (lacking mineral) or Hyper (overabundance of that mineral).

What causes minerals to be imbalanced?


* Hypercalcemia: hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid gland); cancer; kidney disease; excessive use of calcium supplements and antacids or genetic disorders.

* Hypocalcemia: kidney failure; thyroid disorders; vitamin D deficiency; medications like heparin.


* Hyperchloremia: severe dehydration; kidney failure; hemodialysis.

* Hypochloremia: This occurs concurrently with other electrolyte disorders, specifically hyponatremia and hypokalemia.


* Hypermagnesemia: This is a rare disorder that occurs in people with Addison’s disease and end-stage renal disease.

* Hypomagnesemia: chronic alcoholism; malnutrition; malabsorption issues; digestive system disorders; chronic diarrhea; excessive sweating; medications like diuretics and cyclosporine; and certain antibiotics.


* Hyperphosphatemia: broken bones; kidney disease; intestinal obstructions; hypoparathyroidism.

* Hypophosphatemia: hypomagnesemia; hypokalemia; severe burns; traumatic injuries; chronic alcoholism; kidney disease; hypothyroidism; malnutrition; prolonged diuretic use.


* Hyperkalemia: can be fatal if left undiagnosed and untreated. Causes include: heart attack; kidney failure; fasting; intestinal bleeding; medications such as lithium, beta blockers, and diuretics.

* Hypokalemia: eating disorders; severe vomiting or diarrhea; kidney disease; adrenal gland problems; severe dehydration; medications such as laxatives, diuretics, and penicillin are also sometimes the cause. Can be life threatening if left untreated.


* Hypernatremia: dehydration; excessive loss of bodily fluids (from vomiting, diarrhea, or severe burns); medications like corticosteroids and blood pressure medication.

* Hyponatremia: excessive sweating; water intoxication; kidney disease can cause this imbalance; diuretics; illicit drugs.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of an electrolyte disorder include:

* dark urine

* heart palpitations

* tiredness

* lethargy

* seizures

* nausea

* vomiting

* diarrhea or constipation

* abdominal cramps

* muscle weakness

* pain

* irritability

* depression

* headache


A blood test is needed if an electrolyte imbalance is suspected. If you are exhibiting the above symptoms please visit your doctor as soon as possible or give us a call here at Tampa Cardiovascular Associates at 813-975-2800. Once an analysis has been done recommendations will be made to get you back in balance and feeling better once again.

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: 18/12/2015

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