Negative Effects of Drinking Too Many Electrolytes

Your body needs a certain amount of electrolytes, particularly sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, which must be replenished after losing them through your sweat or urine. However, you can get too many electrolytes by drinking too many sports drinks. This can potentially be as harmful to your body as too few electrolytes.


While your muscles need sodium in order to work properly and prevent cramping, too much sodium in your blood is called hypernatremia. Hypernatremia typically does not have many symptoms until your blood sodium levels are extremely high. Symptoms include dizziness when changing positions, vomiting and diarrhea. You can help lower your sodium levels by drinking plenty of water. You can prevent hypernatremia by drinking plain water, along with moderate amounts of sports drinks or beverages with electrolytes.


Potassium is an electrolyte that works closely with sodium to maintain proper muscle function, but too much potassium is called hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia occurs most frequently if you get so much of this electrolyte that your kidneys cannot properly filter it out of your blood -- or if a kidney disorder impairs this ability. It can result in damage to your heart and muscles. Hyperkalemia frequently has no symptoms, although it may present with a heart arrhythmia, nausea and an irregular pulse. Like hypernatremia, you can prevent hyperkalemia by drinking water with your electrolyte supplement drinks.


Hypercalcemia, or too much calcium, is also closely related to phosphorus levels in your blood. According to "Modern Medicine," when your calcium levels are too high, your phosphorus levels are too low and vice versa. Too little of either is bad, but too much of either can also cause problems. These electrolytes are necessary for your bone health, but too much of them can cause fatigue and lethargy, bone and joint pain and seizures. Too much of either can also cause stomach problems like nausea or vomiting.


According to the Linus Pauling Institute, magnesium transports other electrolytes across your cell membranes, which is necessary for functions like proper nerve impulses, muscle contractions and heart rhythm. However, too much magnesium can cause muscular and neurological damage. Symptoms include muscle weakness, nausea, dizziness, confusion and heart arrhythmia. When drinking sports drinks or taking electrolyte supplements, always consume in moderation and take with plenty of plain water.

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