Electrolyte Disorders (Electrolyte Imbalance,Electrolyte Metabolism Disorder,)

Electrolyte Disorders
Body Parts: Whole Body
Medical Subjects: Children's Health

What Is Electrolyte Disorders?

What is the electrolyte in electrolyte disorders?

No matter male or female, the water in human body accounts for more than half (55%–60%) of human body weight. The water in the human body is rich in some important substances, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, bicarbonate, phosphate, such substances dissolved in water is also called electrolyte.

What is electrolyte disorders?

Under normal circumstances, these electrolyte components are stable and maintain a balanced state, which is necessary to ensure the normal operation of various parts, tissues, organs and cells in the human body.

When there is a state of insufficient dietary intake, vomiting and diarrhea, some hereditary diseases, medical diseases, surgical trauma or surgery, etc., part of the electrolyte in the water is disordered and imbalanced and is no longer in the normal range. This is called electrolyte metabolism disorder, also known as electrolyte disorder, or electrolyte imbalance.

What is the harm of electrolyte disorder?

Electrolyte disorders can be divided into mild, moderate and severe disorders according to the degree, and life-threatening for severe disorders.

According to the time when the disorder occurs, it is divided into acute and chronic. The symptoms of acute disorder are often more serious. According to the disorder, it is divided into simple type (such as the abnormality of only sodium) and mixed type (such as the abnormality of multiple electrolytes such as sodium and potassium at the same time).

Electrolyte disorder, because of the specific electrolyte disorder situation each have different, such as sodium disorder, potassium disorder or calcium disorder, disorder of electrolyte different performance has its own characteristics, cause electrolyte disorder of different etiology, performance is also each have differences.

How to treat electrolyte disorder?

Infants, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases are prone to electrolyte disorders.

Treatment as long as it is to find the cause of electrolyte disorders, for the cause of treatment to solve the problem well, if temporarily can't find the cause, or in a critical condition, or life threatening situation, also can take more back less fill the principle, such as when high calcium to take the necessary measures to calcium down, when low potassium to take measures to potassium up first, etc.

The cause of electrolyte disorder is clear. If the cause can be removed, the disorder can be cured. If the cause cannot be removed or the cause is unclear, the disorder may exist for a long time and needs regular review and long-term treatment. This situation will have a certain impact on health and quality of life.

Is electrolyte disorder common?

Electrolyte disorders are common. Many diseases will be accompanied by electrolyte disorders, such as infectious fever, nausea and vomiting, trauma, surgery, gastrointestinal diseases, liver diseases, brain diseases, endocrine diseases (such as thyroid disease, parathyroid disease, adrenal disease, pituitary disease), and may be accompanied by one or more electrolyte disorders.

Is electrolyte disorder and acid-base balance disorder the same kind of disease?

Acid-base balance disorders and electrolyte disorders are not the same, but often both can occur together.

The blood of the human body has a certain pH value, also known as pH in medicine, which is normally 7.35–7.45. Arterial blood is usually drawn for blood gas analysis to judge. If the value is lower than 7.35, it is acidosis; if it is higher than 7.45, it is alkalosis.

Electrolyte disorder is mainly for venous blood blood test electrolyte, if sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chlorine, one or more of the electrolyte abnormalities, is not within the normal range, said there is electrolyte disorder.

Some diseases can have electrolyte disorders and acid-base balance disorders at the same time, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, acidosis and low potassium and sodium at the same time.

What are the types of electrolyte disorders?

Electrolyte disorder is mainly divided into hyponatremia, hypernatremia, hypokalemia, hyperkalemia, hypocalcemia, hypercalcemia, hypomagnesemia, hypermagnesemia, hypophosphatemia, hyperphosphatemia, etc. according to the condition of the electrolyte disorder.


What Is The Cause Of Electrolyte Disorders?

What causes electrolyte disorders?

Common causes of electrolyte disorders include:

  • Inadequate dietary intake (e.g., inability to eat or fast, dysphagia, cognitive impairment, eating difficulties, etc.).
  • Excessive electrolyte loss (such as gastrointestinal diseases, vomiting, diarrhea, use of diuretics, or urination such as hyperglycemia, fever, acute or chronic infection, sunstroke, sweating, surgery, trauma, blood loss, bleeding, etc.).
  • Endocrine diseases (such as syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, hypopituitarism, parathyroid disease, and hyperaldosteronism).
  • Chronic diseases (such as renal failure, liver cirrhosis, heart failure, etc.), hereditary diseases (such as Bartter syndrome, etc.).

Who is prone to electrolyte disorders?

Patients with poor dietary intake, neonates, infants, and the elderly, patients with chronic diseases, patients with endocrine diseases, and patients in acute infection, trauma, surgery, and other states are prone to electrolyte disorders.


What Symptom Does Electrolyte Disorder Have?

What are the manifestations of electrolyte disorders?


The earliest manifestations of acute hyponatremia in the early stage are usually nausea and discomfort, and the severe ones can be further manifested as headache, lethargy and confusion, and finally epileptic seizure, coma and respiratory arrest.

Chronic low sodium can be manifested as fatigue, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, walking instability, forgetfulness, confusion, lethargy, muscle cramps, etc.


Early acute high sodium can be manifested as drowsiness, fatigue, weakness, irritability, irritability, and further development can be manifested as tremors, convulsions, epileptic seizures and coma.

Chronic hypernatremia, which lasts for more than one day, is milder and less obvious than acute hypernatremia.


The severity of the manifestations of hypokalemia was significantly correlated with the degree and rate of potassium reduction. It can manifest as muscle weakness, usually starting from the lower limbs and gradually developing to the trunk and upper limbs. In severe cases, paralysis, muscle cramping and muscle dissolution may occur.

The respiratory muscles are involved, and respiratory muscle weakness occurs, which seriously leads to respiratory muscle failure and death. Gastrointestinal muscles will be involved, resulting in slow and disappearing gastrointestinal peristalsis, abdominal distension, anorexia, nausea and vomiting.

Various types of arrhythmias can occur, manifested as palpitations, etc. Can affect the kidney, urine, acid-base disorders, etc. Insulin secretion is reduced when potassium is low, and abnormalities of blood glucose may occur.


Early manifestations include numbness of limbs, extreme fatigue, muscle soreness, pale and cold limbs. Other manifestations can be related to the causes of high potassium. For example, high blood potassium caused by diabetes is not well controlled, and polyuria and polydipsia due to hyperglycemia often appear.

Severe manifestations include muscle weakness, muscle paralysis, bradycardia, irregular heartbeat, irritability, syncope, confusion, and sudden death.


When the blood calcium drops seriously or the drop speed is very fast, may present the spontaneous brothers convulsion, the abdominal pain, the bronchial asthma, even appears the throat spasm, grand mal and so on, if handles improperly may die.

Patients with chronic hypocalcemia may feel numbness or tingling in the lips, nose, and limbs, muscle tremors, and tapping the skin in the front of the ear may cause muscle contractions in the lips, nose, and eyes on this side. If the cuff of the sphygmomanometer is used to bind the arm and upper arm for inflation, the pressure will be maintained to a certain extent, and the fingers of this hand can be seen to tighten towards the palm within three minutes.

Long-term hypocalcemia patients may have memory loss, personality changes, depression and anxiety, mental disorders, children's mental retardation, and some patients may appear heart failure.

Chronic hypocalcemia may also include dry skin, increased dandruff, pigmentation, fragile nails, transverse nail groove, alopecia, and sparse hair, and cataract may occur. In addition, candida infection may occur due to decreased immune function, and dental agenesis may occur in children.


General manifestations include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, and even intestinal obstruction. The disease continues to develop into neuropsychiatric manifestations such as headache, muscle weakness, depression, excitability, gait instability, language disorders, hearing and vision disorders, loss of directional strength, stiffness, and psychobehavioral abnormalities.

Hypercalcemia can lead to peptic ulcer, acute pancreatitis, pulmonary infection, dyspnea, and even respiratory failure. Affected kidneys can develop thirst, polydipsia, polyuria, dehydration, nephrolithiasis, and even kidney failure. Hypertension and various heartbeat disorders can occur, and fatal arrhythmia can occur without timely treatment.


There may be neuromuscular manifestations, including neuromuscular hyperexcitability (such as tremors, tetany, convulsions), muscle weakness, apathy, delirium, and coma. Cardiovascular manifestations, including electrocardiographic abnormalities and irregular heart rhythms.

Often combined with calcium, potassium and other abnormalities, the corresponding performance. In addition, low magnesium has certain connection with hypertension, migraine and asthma.


It manifests as bradycardia, nausea and vomiting, skin vasodilation, urinary retention. In the development of the disease, drowsiness, stiffness and insanity may appear, and in even more serious cases, muscle paralysis, muscle weakness, respiratory depression, cardiac contraction weakness, coma and even death may appear.


Acute hypophosphatemia will affect the dissociation of oxygen and hemoglobin, can lead to brain hypoxia, serious cause rhabdomyolysis, hemolysis, infection, coma, and even death, and long-term chronic hypophosphatemia can lead to rickets, osteomalacia, etc.


The manifestations of hyperphosphatemia are usually very mild. The manifestations of severe hyperphosphatemia vary according to the etiology of hyperphosphatemia. If accompanied by hypocalcemia or other metabolic disorders, paresthesia, hand-foot convulsions, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, consciousness disorders, etc. can occur.

Can electrolyte disorder cause convulsion?

Electrolyte disorders to a certain extent can cause convulsions, such as sodium, potassium, calcium and other electrolyte abnormalities are likely to cause convulsions.

How do electrolyte disorders develop?

Electrolyte disorders are often triggered by conditions such as insufficient dietary intake, vomiting and diarrhea, acute or chronic infections, use of certain medications (such as diuretics), certain hereditary diseases, medical diseases (such as adrenocortical insufficiency, parathyroid disease, chronic renal insufficiency, etc.), surgical trauma or surgery.

If there is no timely detection, timely detection of the cause, removal of the cause, and active treatment, the disorder will gradually worsen, affecting multiple parts of the body, and serious enough to lead to organ failure and death.

What are the serious consequences of electrolyte disorders?

Acute and severe electrolyte disorders can affect multiple tissues and organs of the whole body, leading to respiratory failure, renal failure, irregular heartbeat disorder, and heart failure, leading to coma and even death.


How To Check For Electrolyte Disorders?

How to diagnose electrolyte disorders?

Blood tests for ion combination, some hospitals call it electrolyte test, or arterial blood gas analysis test, can determine whether there is electrolyte disorder.

The diagnosis of electrolyte disorders is often accompanied by etiological investigations, sometimes requiring a 24-hour urine sample, tests for endocrine hormones, etc.

There will be tolerable pain during the blood gas analysis and it will be completed soon, which need not be worried.

Blood gas analysis is an important examination item for the diagnosis of electrolyte disorders, especially electrolyte disorders accompanied by acid-base balance disorders and respiratory function affected. The more relaxed the patient is, the milder the pain will be. Excessive breathing and breath-holding will be avoided during blood drawing so as not to affect the results of blood gas analysis.

What are the precautions for blood gas analysis or blood test due to electrolyte disorder?

During blood gas analysis, patients should pay attention to their emotional state to avoid hyperventilation, breath-holding, vomiting or crying caused by tension, which may affect blood gas indicators. Patients should relax all over the body and maintain a comfortable posture, lie down on the bed or sit in a comfortable chair for more than 5 minutes, or draw blood after breathing is stable.

The results of blood gas analysis under different temperatures may be used or not. The body temperature of the patient should be measured before blood collection, and the actual body temperature of the patient should be indicated on the laboratory test form, so that the temperature of the instrument can be corrected during laboratory measurement to ensure the accuracy of the measurement results. Under the condition that the patient receives oxygen through nasal catheter or is given oxygen through a respirator, blood collection can be conducted only after sufficient time is allowed to ensure that the patient reaches a stable state.

If the condition permits, it is best to stop the oxygen inhalation for 30 minutes and draw blood, otherwise, the oxygen concentration shall be indicated so that the results can be better analyzed.

Some drugs can affect the results of blood gas analysis, such as fat emulsion, so blood should be taken before infusion of fat emulsion drugs, or 12 hours after the transfusion. Alkaline drugs, large doses of penicillin sodium salt, ampicillin and other drugs through the vein into the body, will cause temporary changes in pH, affect the real results, it is recommended that the best should be 30 minutes before the use of blood.

Which diseases are easily confused with electrolyte disorders?

Many diseases can lead to electrolyte disorder, so when electrolyte disorder occurs, it is important to distinguish different etiologies in the identification of etiology.

In hyponatremia, for example, according to the specific situation of patients, such as further urine osmotic pressure and urine electrolyte tests, and the corresponding endocrine hormone levels of laboratory, to do further etiological differentiation and identification.

When the urine osmotic pressure decreases significantly, primary polydipsia, excessive intake of low osmolar fluid, excessive drinking of beer, and the like are considered.

When the urine osmotic pressure is obviously increased, the urine sodium level is further checked, and if the urine sodium level is obviously reduced, heart failure, liver cirrhosis, nephrotic syndrome, and the like are considered.

If the urinary sodium level is significantly increased, diuretic nephropathy is considered if diuretics are used, and inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion syndrome, adrenocortical insufficiency, hypothyroidism, and the like are considered if diuretics are not used.


How To Prevent Electrolyte Disorder?

How to prevent electrolyte disorder?

A balanced diet, regular meals, and active treatment of chronic diseases have a certain effect on the prevention of electrolyte disorders.

How does electrolyte disorder prevent relapse?

Active treatment for the etiology of electrolyte disorders is the key to prevent and treat the recurrence of electrolyte disorders.

How can patients with electrolyte disorders prevent complications?

The key to prevent complications is to actively treat the cause of electrolyte disorder, actively correct the disorder of electrolyte, correct the disorder as soon as possible and prevent further aggravation of the disorder.


How To Treat Electrolyte Disorders?

Which department do you want to see for electrolyte disorders?

If acute and severe electrolyte disturbances are suspected, an emergency department is recommended. If the electrolyte disorder is chronic or the condition is not serious, we will visit the corresponding department according to the specific etiology, for example, endocrine department for endocrine diseases, and renal medicine for chronic kidney diseases.

Electrolyte disorder can oneself good?

Whether electrolyte disorder can recover by itself depends mainly on whether the etiology leading to electrolyte disorder can recover by itself and the severity of electrolyte disorder.

For example, acute gastroenteritis can heal itself in some cases, so electrolyte disturbance caused by acute gastroenteritis can heal itself with the recovery of acute gastroenteritis.

If the electrolyte disturbance is caused by some endocrine diseases or chronic diseases, then the electrolyte disturbance cannot recover by itself because these diseases cannot be cured by themselves.

In addition, more serious electrolyte disorders are difficult to recover on their own and need treatment.

Which treatment works better?

The treatment of electrolyte disorders is mainly aimed at the causes of electrolyte disorders, so as to fundamentally solve the problem of disorder.

If the cause cannot be found for the time being, or the condition is critical, or the life is threatened, the principle of more withdrawal and less supplementation can be adopted first. For example, when high calcium occurs, the necessary measures shall be taken to lower calcium first, and when low potassium occurs, the potassium shall be supplemented first.

Do electrolytes disorders require hospitalization?

Hospitalization is determined primarily by the etiology and severity of the electrolyte disturbance, which can be life-threatening and requires hospitalization.

What are the common side effects of the treatment of electrolyte disorders?

If the cause of electrolyte disorder cannot be found temporarily, or the condition is critical, or the life is threatened, the principle of more withdrawal and less compensation is often adopted.

For example, in the treatment of low sodium, sodium can be replenished. The sodium itself has no obvious side effects. It is mainly necessary to pay attention to the speed and quantity of replenishment. If the replenishment speed is too fast, there will be nervous system-related side effects. If the replenishment quantity is too large, there will be overcorrection.

Can electrolyte disorder be cured completely?

Complete cure of electrolyte disorders depends on the cause of the disorder.

The cause of electrolyte disorder is clear. If the cause can be removed, the disorder can be cured. If the cause cannot be removed or the cause is unclear, the disorder may exist for a long time and needs regular review and long-term treatment. This situation will have a certain impact on health and quality of life.


What Should Patients With Electrolyte Disorders Pay Attention To In Life?

What should patients with electrolyte disorders pay attention to in their diet?

Different types of electrolyte disturbances and patients with electrolyte disturbances caused by different causes have their own dietary requirements and cannot be generalized.

For example, the most common electrolyte disorder after major surgery is low potassium and low sodium. Reasonable diet arrangement should be adopted to give foods with good taste and small gastrointestinal irritation. Low-fat, high-protein and potassium-rich foods should be eaten in small amounts and with many meals. Fresh vegetables and fruits should be added to help the patients recover from low potassium and low sodium after surgery.

What should patients with electrolyte disorders pay attention to in life?

Patients with different types of electrolyte disorders and electrolyte disorders caused by different causes have their own requirements in their lives, and they cannot be generalized.

For example, low sodium caused by polydipsia and inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone syndrome requires limiting daily water intake. As for high sodium caused by dehydration, patients should drink as much water as possible. Therefore, different situations have different requirements, and you can communicate with the doctor in detail.

Do electrolyte disorders need to be reviewed?

Acute and severe electrolyte disorder may be life-threatening. It is necessary to observe the changes of electrolytes in time. At first, blood was drawn for testing electrolytes or blood gas analysis every 4–6 hours. Treatment plan was adjusted according to the results to normalize the disordered electrolytes as planned.

For chronic and non-severe electrolyte disorders, the interval and content of re-examination should be determined according to the specific situation of patients and the cause of the disorder.

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