Electrolyte Imbalance

Also known as: electrolyte disorders.

What is electrolyte imbalance?

Body fluids are composed of water and the substances dissolved in it (solutes).

These solutes possess an electrical charge and are called electrolytes. The can be positively charged (also known as cations like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) or negatively charged (or anions like chloride, bicarbonate and phosphate).

Electrolytes are maintained in the body within a narrow range and are essential to the metabolic activities of all cells. When these electrolytes are out of balance (either too high or too low) they cause problems in many organ or systems.

What causes electrolyte imbalance?

Electrolyte imbalances have many causes. Dehydration, fever, other diseases like liver or kidney problems, some medications, vomiting, diarrhea are a few of the many causes of electrolyte imbalance.

What are the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance?

Symptoms can vary widely based on the type of electrolyte imbalance that is present. Some possible symptoms include:

What are electrolyte imbalance care options?

Treatment for electrolyte imbalance will vary depending on the type of abnormality(s) and severity.

Treating symptoms and increasing or decreasing the particular electrolyte(s) abnormality by supplement, or removal by medication, oral/intravenous fluids, or dialysis are all treatment options available.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 02, 2022 04:36 PM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

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