Reason For Low Sodium In Human Body – What are electrolytes? Electrolytes are certain nutrients (or chemicals) present in your body that have many important functions—from regulating your heartbeat to allowing your muscles to contract so you can move.
The main electrolytes found in the body include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate and chloride. Because these key nutrients help stimulate nerves throughout the body and balance fluid levels, electrolyte imbalances can cause a number of serious negative symptoms, including some that are potentially fatal.
- 1 Reason For Low Sodium In Human Body
- 2 Hypernatremia: Video, Anatomy, Definition & Function
- 3 Low Sodium Symptoms: What Are The Early Signs Of Low Sodium?
- 4 Fast Food’s Effects On 8 Areas Of The Body
Reason For Low Sodium In Human Body
You gain electrolytes by eating different foods and drinking certain liquids, while you lose some of them through exercise, sweating, going to the toilet and urinating. (1) This is why poor diet, too little or too much exercise, and illness are some possible causes of electrolyte imbalance.
Why Low Sodium Salt Is Bad For Health
Electrolytes are found in body fluids, including urine, blood, and sweat. Electrolytes get their name because they literally have an “electrical charge.” (2) When dissolved in water, they separate into positively and negatively charged ions.
The reason this is important is because of how neural responses occur. Your nerves signal to each other through a process of chemical exchanges dependent on oppositely charged ions, both outside and inside your cells.
Electrolyte imbalances can be caused by a number of different factors, including short-term illnesses, medications, dehydration, and underlying chronic disorders. (3) Some of the common causes of electrolyte imbalance are due to fluid loss, which can stem from situations such as:
Because electrolytes have so many different roles in the body, an imbalance will usually cause noticeable changes in how you feel very quickly. Depending on the type of electrolyte imbalance you are experiencing, a number of symptoms may occur, including:
How Much Salt Should You Eat If You Have Low Blood Pressure?
To diagnose an electrolyte imbalance, your doctor may perform several different tests to determine your electrolyte levels. Your health care provider will most likely discuss your medical history, any recurring symptoms you experience, and perform a urine and blood test to detect any abnormalities.
Sometimes it is also necessary to have an EKG test, ultrasound, or X-ray of the kidneys to detect serious electrolyte imbalances that may put you at risk for heart complications.
Your doctor will look for any noticeable changes in optimal electrolyte levels, including very high or low levels of potassium, magnesium, or sodium. These are usually fairly easy to spot because the body works very hard to keep electrolyte concentrations within a narrow range. Levels are measured per liter of blood, and an electrolyte imbalance is diagnosed when you have a value higher or lower than the normal ranges below: (4)
How do you know it’s time to talk to a doctor about whether or not you have an electrolyte imbalance? If you can relate to the electrolyte imbalance symptom descriptions below, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about how to reverse the problem and prevent it from recurring. Here are some common symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance and a little more about what each one can cause:
Hypernatremia: Video, Anatomy, Definition & Function
The first step to correcting an electrolyte imbalance is to find out how it developed in the first place. For many people, a poor diet high in processed foods high in sodium but low in other electrolytes such as magnesium or potassium paves the way for dangerous imbalances. In many cases, minor electrolyte imbalances can be corrected simply by making dietary changes and cutting down on junk food, takeout and restaurant meals and instead cooking more fresh food at home.
Focus your diet on whole, unpackaged foods—especially plenty of vegetables and fruits that provide potassium and magnesium. The best ones include leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cabbage, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or squash, bananas and avocados. A diet rich in magnesium or potassium can likely be enough to resolve problems such as low potassium levels, which can lead to blood pressure problems, or magnesium deficiency, which can contribute to anxiety, restlessness, and muscle spasms.
To prevent dehydration and restore electrolytes, focus on electrolyte drinks and these foods—which are some of the most hydrating because they’re so dense:
Another thing to consider is whether you are consuming enough calcium. With or without dairy products, it is possible to get calcium from leafy greens, other vegetables, beans and legumes. To get enough calcium naturally without the need for supplements, consider adding high-quality, ideally raw dairy products to your diet if you can tolerate them. Foods like organic probiotic yogurt, cultured raw cheeses, and raw milk provide high levels of electrolytes in addition to other important nutrients.
Hyponatremia (low Sodium): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Check your sodium levels when you consume packaged or processed foods. Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a significant role in the body’s ability to retain or release water, so if your diet is very high in sodium, more water is excreted by the kidneys, which can cause complications with balancing other electrolytes.
Here’s how sodium works in the body: Water basically follows salt, which means if you increase sodium too much, water retention will also occur. At the same time, the opposite is true: Loss of sodium leads to water loss, which can cause dehydration and extreme thirst. Hypernatremia (the name for a condition that develops when too much water is lost or too much sodium is gained) is more common in older adults, people with diabetes, and those who eat heavily processed diets. People can too
High sodium levels due to diarrhea, use of certain diuretics or laxatives, and extreme exercise and overtraining without staying hydrated all cause problems in their own right.
Watching how much sodium you consume helps keep symptoms at bay, including bloating, lethargy, dehydration, weakness, irritability and muscle twitching. Drinking water and eating mostly whole foods (not the prepackaged kind!) also ensures you have plenty of other important electrolytes.
Low Sodium Symptoms: What Are The Early Signs Of Low Sodium?
Electrolyte imbalances can develop when the amount of water in your body changes, causing dehydration (not enough water compared to certain elevated electrolytes) or overhydration (too much water). Drinking enough water without diluting your cells too much helps stop sodium and potassium levels from getting too high or too low.
How much water is the right amount for you? It all depends on your specific needs. Do you exercise often? Do you live in a warm climate that makes you sweat? Do you eat a lot of water-rich fruits or vegetables or more processed foods?
While “eight glasses a day” has always been the standard recommendation, it’s not necessarily the best amount for everyone, as factors like your diet, age, physical activity level and body size determine how much water you need. A good rule of thumb is to drink enough to urinate at least every three to four hours, which for most people is about 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses a day.
If you’re exercising vigorously (especially in warm/hot weather, which increases sweat production), make sure you’re replenishing with plenty of water and electrolytes (such as pre-made formulas containing sodium). If you have been sick (including a fever that causes vomiting or diarrhoea), remember that you are losing fluids and should increase your intake. If not, you risk developing symptoms of dehydration, kidney stones, bladder infections, urinary tract stones and potentially heart failure. That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself from dehydration. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also need extra fluids (about 10-13 cups each day) to stay hydrated and prevent deficiencies, as do teenagers, who grow and develop faster than people of other ages.
Symptoms Of Electrolyte Imbalance, Plus How To Solve It
Is it possible to drink too much water? Overhydration is rare, but yes, it is possible. (6) Your kidneys are unable to excrete very high levels of excess water, so this can mean that the electrolytes in your blood can become diluted. This can result in low sodium, which is more common in endurance athletes (who often try to compensate for sweating by drinking lots of water), but is less likely to develop in someone eating a standard American high-salt diet.
Antibiotics, diuretics, hormone pills, blood pressure medications, and cancer treatments can affect electrolyte levels. The most severe forms of electrolyte imbalance usually occur in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Their symptoms can be very serious if not treated properly and include high blood calcium levels or other imbalances that develop as cancer cells die.
Laxatives or diuretics also change potassium and sodium levels in the blood and urine. Some diuretics are considered “potassium-sparing,” meaning they can cause potassium levels to stay very high, while other electrolytes, such as sodium, calcium, and magnesium, can drop very low. This results in anxiety, rapid heart rate, digestive problems and sleep problems. It is also possible to develop electrolyte imbalances due to hormonal interactions from antidiuretic hormone drugs, aldosterone, and thyroid hormones. (7) Even high levels of physiological stress can affect hormones to the point that fluid and electrolyte levels become out of balance.
If you’ve started a new medication or supplement and notice changes in your mood, energy, heart rate, and sleep, talk to
Fast Food’s Effects On 8 Areas Of The Body
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