Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that:
These minerals include:
Most people have short-lived changes in electrolyte levels caused by:
If your levels are routinely too low or too high, you might have an electrolyte disorder.
Some people get electrolyte disorders from medicine they take for other health problems, such as:
Life-threatening conditions — like shock or severe dehydration — can also cause electrolyte disorders.
Electrolyte disorders have different names based on which mineral is out of balance.
They also use a prefix based on whether the electrolyte level is too high or too low:
The most common types of electrolyte disorders are:
|Mineral||Too High||Too Low|
Mild electrolyte disorders are common in people over 55.
Older adults are at higher risk for these disorders, but young people can also have them.
Your risk is higher if you have any of the following:
Without treatment, electrolyte disorders can become life-threatening and cause:
For most healthy people, ways to help prevent an electrolyte imbalance are to:
Mild electrolyte disorders often don't have any noticeable symptoms.
But moderate cases can sometimes cause:
Symptoms of severe electrolyte disorders can include:
If you think you have an electrolyte disorder or are at higher risk for one, seek diagnosis and treatment right away.
To diagnose an electrolyte disorder, your doctor will:
They may also:
You'll need to tell your doctor:
Electrolyte disorders are serious and can cause life-threatening symptoms. They may also be a sign of other, more severe illnesses.
Treatment depends on the type of disorder you have and whether it's due to an underlying condition. We'll work with you to find a reversible cause for your illness and reduce risks of other diseases.
The most common treatments are:
To learn more about electrolyte disorders: