Are Electrolyte Imbalances Life Threatening?

Electrolytes are blood and body fluid minerals that carry electric charges to control the body’s physiological functions. Body fluid comprises water, and the substances dissolved in it are called solutes. These solutes possess an electrical charge, also called electrolytes. It can be positively charged, called cations like potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium, or negatively charged, called anions like phosphate, bicarbonate, and chloride.

Electrolytes are often referred to as essential minerals in sweat, urine, and blood. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, etc. These electrolytes are ingested through food, drinks, or supplements. They are crucial to maintaining the body’s internal pH and bodily fluids, regulating heart rhythm, and supporting the nervous system. To detect the severity of cases of electrolyte imbalance, it is best to go for a routine check-up. An electrolytes test price varies for different hospitals.

What is an Electrolyte Imbalance?

An electrolyte imbalance occurs when your body’s minerals are either increasingly high or considerably less. It can negatively alter the functioning of the body’s vital systems. A few examples of electrolyte imbalances are Hypernatremia (High Sodium), Acidosis (High Acid Levels), Hypokalemia (Low Potassium), etc.  

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Causes of an Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolyte imbalance is most often caused due to a loss of bodily fluids. It may happen after continuous puking, diarrhea, sweating, or due to an illness. The exact cause may vary depending on the type of electrolyte imbalance. It can be caused by:

  • Inadequate water intake.
  • Fluid loss related to vomiting, diarrhea, burns, etc.
  • Certain medications, such as diuretics, laxatives, steroids, etc.
  • Diseases, including chronic kidney conditions, heart problems, lung disorders, and many more.   

Key Symptoms of an Electrolyte Imbalance

A symptom of an electrolyte imbalance varies depending on the mineral that’s out of balance. The severity of each imbalance occurs according to how low or high an electrolyte type is in the body. A mild imbalance may not show any symptoms. They are not detected until a proper routine blood test. Such electrolytes test prices in India range from Rs 300 to Rs 650. Symptoms usually occur when the mineral imbalance becomes highly severe. A few common symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance include:

  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Confusion or difficulty with cognition
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slow or irregular heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Itching

Severe electrolyte imbalance may be fatal if not treated on time. Hence, it is best to remain hydrated or seek medical help with the severity of the mineral imbalance.

Treatment for Electrolyte Imbalance

Treatment for electrolyte imbalance varies by the nature of the severity. A few options for treatment include:  

  • Increasing or reducing the particular electrolyte imbalance by supplement or medication
  • Intake of oral fluids for rehydration
  • Intravenous fluid therapy


An electrolyte imbalance can have many causes and treatments depending on the mineral type affected. The first move is to rehydrate if you’re experiencing dehydration or mineral imbalance symptoms. In cases of severe electrolyte imbalance due to medications or other medical conditions, it is essential to do an electrolyte test. Do seek a doctor’s advice before your electrolyte imbalance is too late for any cure.

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