Electrolytes

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Endocrinology, Internal medicine


Clinical Definition

Electrolytes are negatively and positively charged minerals and salts in the body, which assist in balancing cellular fluid levels. Proper levels of electrolytes are essential for maintaining normal pH blood levels, transmitting nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Electrolyte levels in the body may become imbalanced through emesis, excessive perspiration, endocrine disorders and kidney disease.


In Our Own Words

Electrolytes are substances in the body that carry an electrical charge, such as salts or minerals. They help to balance fluid levels in and outside the cells. Electrolytes are also important for proper muscle and nerve function.

 

Human electrolytes include sodium bicarbonate, potassium, sodium chloride and calcium. Levels of electrolytes may be affected by sweating, vomiting and certain medical conditions, such as endocrine system disorders.

Relevant Conditions
  • Electrolyte imbalance
Common Types
  • Sodium chloride
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
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sources
  • University of Rochester Medical Center. “Electrolytes.” http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=167&ContentID=electrolytes. Accessed February 2014.
  • Texas Oncology. “Electrolyte Imbalance.” http://www.texasoncology.com/cancer-treatment/side-effects-of-cancer-treatment/less-common-side-effects/blood-test-abnormalities/electrolyte-imbalance. Accessed February 2014.
  • Dolan S., PhD. “Electrolytes: Understanding Replacement Options.” http://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/715/electrolytes-understanding-replacement-options. Accessed February 2014.
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