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5 Signs of an Electrolyte Imbalance

 5 Signs of an Electrolyte Imbalance

Our bodies are complex biological organisms, relying on hundreds of distinct functions to keep us healthy. Most of those functions are so subtle we don’t realize they’re happening — until something goes wrong. 

An electrolyte imbalance is a great example: Electrolytes play vital roles in health and function but largely go unnoticed until their levels are disrupted. Recognizing common symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance can help you get treatment before complications occur.

At Houston Kidney Specialists Center, our team is skilled in diagnosing and treating electrolyte disorders, relieving symptoms and supporting health and wellness. Here, learn five subtle signs that indicate you should have your electrolyte levels checked.

1. Muscle cramps or weakness

Several electrolytes help maintain normal muscle function. In fact, sports drinks contain minerals like potassium, sodium, and magnesium to help replenish levels depleted by strenuous physical activity. 

When these minerals are out of balance, you can experience painful muscle cramps or recurrent spasms, along with muscle fatigue or weakness that’s especially noticeable during exercise.

2. Irregular heartbeat

Your heart relies on the electrical charges provided by electrolytes to maintain a normal rhythm. An unusually rapid heartbeat, palpitations, or other rhythm irregularities could signal an imbalance in electrolytes like potassium, calcium, or magnesium.

3. Fatigue

Many electrolytes are involved in energy production and metabolism, helping your body’s cells and tissues function how they should. Low levels of electrolytes can quickly lead to persistent fatigue that can’t be remedied with a good night’s sleep or midday nap.

4. Confusion, irritability, and mood changes

Low levels of some electrolytes, like sodium, can lead to cognitive issues, like confusion, problems concentrating, or memory changes. Changes in calcium levels may lead to changes in your mood, like irritability, anxiety, or depression.

5. Numbness or tingling

Minerals like magnesium and calcium play key roles in nerve function and activity. Low levels of either can lead to numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation, particularly in the hands and feet. Nerve dysfunction also can interfere with mobility and cause balance issues.

Treating electrolyte disorders

Once we diagnose an electrolyte disorder, our team recommends treatment based on the underlying cause, symptoms, overall health, and other factors. Many people benefit from intravenous therapy or oral medications to replace electrolytes and restore an optimal balance.

For more severe symptoms or imbalances involving the kidneys, we may recommend hemodialysis to supplement kidney function, removing wastes while rebalancing electrolytes and fluids.

Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance can be subtle, but the sooner you’re evaluated, the faster you can begin treatment to keep you healthy. 

To measure your electrolyte levels or learn more about treatments we offer, request an appointment online or over the phone today with Houston Kidney Specialists Center in Houston and Cypress, Texas.

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