Electrolytes are minerals in body fluids that contain an electrical charge. Sodium, calcium, phosphate, carbonate, potassium, chloride and magnesium are the main electrolytes. Maintaining an appropriate electrolyte balance can improve muscle action, blood chemistry and other processes, according to MedlinePlus. However, when the amount of water in the body changes, the levels of these electrolytes may become too high or too low. The specific symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance vary greatly depending upon which electrolyte is unbalanced, but may include thirst, weakness, drowsiness, sluggishness, fatigue, confusion, cramps, abnormal heart rhythm, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting or seizures. However, making a few simple lifestyle modifications may prevent an electrolyte imbalance.
Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. Drink additional glasses of water after exercising heavily, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, suggests MayoClinic.com.
Get enough vitamin D. Spend time outdoors in the sunlight and eat foods that contain vitamin D, recommends The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.
Eat a balanced diet. Aim to eat foods from all of the major food groups each day. Ask your doctor if there are any dietary alterations you need to make based upon your specific lifestyle or medication situation.
See a doctor regularly. Receiving regular preventative healthcare may prevent you from developing the medical conditions that can cause an electrolyte imbalance.
Ask a doctor about your medications. If a medication you are taking makes you more prone to developing an electrolyte imbalance, ask your doctor if alternative treatment options or lifestyle modifications are available to reduce this risk.
- MedlinePlus: Fluid and Electrolyte Balance
- "Roach's Introductory Clinical Pharmacology"; Susan M. Ford and Sally S. Roach; 2009
- The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Problems with Electrolyte Balance
- Mayo Clinic: Dehydration