Electrolytes are substances that produce an electrically-conducting solution when dissolved in water or other liquids. Every living organism needs electrolytes in order to survive as they play a big role in numerous important body functions.
The most important electrolytes in the human body are magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and calcium. Each one of these electrolytes plays a significant role in our health and function of our organs – magnesium helps our muscles contract and relax, supports the proper rhythm of our heart and prevents anxiety; calcium is incredibly important for our bones and proper blood clotting as well; sodium assists in nerve signaling and keeps the balance of fluids in our body in check, and potassium regulates our blood pressure, heart rhythm and muscle function as well.
As you can see, keeping the level of electrolytes in our body is of vital importance, but due to different factors, electrolyte imbalance has become a pretty common problem nowadays. The main triggers for this serious problem are a poor diet, constant use of antibiotics, improper nutrient absorption, different ailments, hormonal imbalance, kidney disease and chemotherapy.
Electrolyte imbalance is pretty hard to miss, which is why you need to pay more attention to the early symptoms. Visit a doctor if you’re experiencing insomnia, thirst, dizziness, fever, anxiety, muscle aches and spasms, raised blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, loss of focus, diarrhea or constipation, chronic fatigue, headaches, bone pain as well as joint pain and numbness for a longer period. Any of these symptoms or a combination of some can spell electrolyte imbalance which should be fixed as soon as possible.
Electrolyte imbalance is diagnosed when the values of certain electrolytes are out of the normal per liter of blood. Here are some nominal values for essential electrolytes:
- Calcium – 5 – 5.5 mEg\l
- Potassium – 5 – 5.3 mEg\l
- Magnesium – 1.5 – 2.5 mEg\l
- Sodium – 136 – 145 mEg\l
- Chloride – 97 – 107 mEg\l
If you’re suffering from magnesium deficiency, you will most likely experience symptoms such as insomnia, muscle cramps, fatigue, night sweats, increased heartbeat, and anxiety as well.
If you’re suffering from high levels of sodium in your body, you will experience dizziness, confusion, and irritability. Some people may experience seizures and delirium – in case of extremely high sodium levels, they might even fall into a coma.
High potassium levels are especially dangerous as they may cause an irregular heartbeat. This condition is known as hyperkalemia and manifests through weakness and numbness in the muscles which is brought on by the interference with nerve and muscle signaling.
In cases of high calcium levels, you can expect brittle bones, fractures, bone pain, kidney stones, constipation as well as vomiting. If your magnesium levels are low at the same time, you may also experience dehydration.
The good news is that resolving electrolyte imbalance can be done easily – you just need to rest and save your energy, drink more water and adjust your diet. Add home-cooked meals full of organic meat and vegetables in your diet when fighting electrolyte imbalance – cruciferous veggies work great, as do bananas, pineapples, celery, watermelon, lemons, kiwi, bell peppers and celery. Drinking kefir will also help regulate the balance of electrolytes in your blood.
As many medications can interfere with your electrolyte levels, you should reduce or avoid their use. This goes especially for antibiotics, blood pressure pills, diuretics and chemotherapy agents.
Keep track of your sodium intake and avoid consuming processed foods altogether. If you’re exercising regularly, make sure to hydrate yourself properly by drinking water before and after hitting the gym.
Finally, if nothing helps, talk to your doctor about electrolyte supplements, which should solve the problem.