Home > Health Library > Electrolytes and Electrolyte Imbalances
Electrolytes are minerals found naturally in the body, such as
potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. Electrolytes are needed to keep the
body's balance of fluids at the proper level and to maintain normal functions,
such as heart rhythm, muscle contraction, and brain function.
the body's electrolytes are not in proper balance, a person may have seizures,
an irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, and other problems. Electrolyte
imbalances can be caused by a variety of health conditions, such as chronic
heart or kidney disease, endocrine diseases (such as problems with the adrenal,
pituitary, thyroid, or parathyroid glands), eating disorders, or bone
disorders. Any condition that causes the body to lose too much water (such as
diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or taking medicines called diuretics) can also
lead to an electrolyte imbalance.
An oral rehydration solution (ORS) that contains the right balance of electrolytes can be helpful for people who have diarrhea or vomiting, or for athletes who compete in endurance events (such as long-distance cycling or running races). An ORS can come as a liquid that is ready to drink, or as a powder that needs to be mixed with a certain amount of water before drinking. ORS examples include Pedialyte and Vitalyte.
Current as of:
August 21, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
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