9 Signs You Have An Electrolyte Imbalance: Complete Guide 2024

By Vanessa Richards

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

electrolyte imbalance

The human body needs a proper balance of electrolytes. But, electrolyte deficiencies or abnormalities may not be as seriously perceived as lung cancer.

This perception leaves the problem unattended and causes damaging health consequences like kidney problems. Also, electrolyte imbalances can refer to a severe underlying cause.

Does this imply something as seemingly simple as electrolyte imbalance can make you lose the battle of life? Obviously, no!

You can prep yourself with sufficient knowledge to properly manage electrolyte imbalances. So, read on to know the impacts, treatments as well as prevention.

Electrolyte Imbalance: What are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes refer to elements and compounds naturally occurring in the blood stream and other body fluids. Examples of electrolytes include the following.

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphate

These contribute to the proper functioning of cellular functions and organs. But, each electrolyte carries specific primary functions.

Calcium levels help in controlling skeletal muscle contractions and blood clotting. On the other hand, chloride helps in maintaining healthy acid-base status.

What is an Electrolyte Imbalance?

Electrolyte imbalance can refer to either higher or lower than the normal range. This fact brings us to acknowledge that different electrolytes have different normal ranges.

The higher levels are indicated by the prefix “hyper.” On the other hand, the names of lower levels are with “hypo”.

Also, the naming of the electrolyte imbalance changes based on the electrolyte involved. Low potassium levels are known as “hypokalemia”.

How to Spot Electrolyte Disorders or Imbalances?

electrolyte imbalance
Photo: Canva

To get your electrolyte imbalance diagnosed, you can opt for a simple blood test. These are good for detecting levels of electrolytes in your body.

These blood tests (like the electrolyte test) are apt if the imbalance gets cured easily. But, if the disorder continues even after the treatment, you may require a precise diagnosis.

In such cases, doctors can even opt for an electrocardiogram. This is to understand imbalance-induced changes in heart health.

But, these can fail to detect an underlying health condition. To identify the underlying cause, doctors conduct a thorough evaluation of symptoms. Also, some extra laboratory examinations may confirm the suspected imbalance.

What Causes Electrolyte Imbalances?

Common causes include vomiting, diarrhea, and summer or physical activity-induced excess sweating. Other causes may involve fluid loss due to severe burns and physiological stress.

However, eating disorders are not perceived as common as the ones mentioned above. They contribute to a larger extent in causing electrolyte imbalances to otherwise healthy individuals with abnormal or low dietary intake. Also, certain medications like antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and diuretics can cause disturbances in electrolyte levels.

Electrolyte imbalances can indicate underlying diseases like chronic kidney disease. It can be easily understood from the kidney’s function in excretion and electrolyte balance. This function explains why kidney failure contributes to hampering electrolyte levels in your body.

Besides mentioned causes, vitamin d deficiency is closely associated with electrolytes in body fluids. This vitamin impacts different electrolyte levels differently. But, it does play a significant role in electrolyte homeostasis.

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Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance

Mild cases may not bring any symptoms until they get severe or heal naturally through a regular diet. But, severe cases have pronounced indications.

Most importantly, any electrolyte imbalance can have specific symptoms, which may differ from other electrolyte abnormalities. But, common and severe symptoms generally encompass the following.

Common SymptomsSevere Symptoms
Muscle crampingShock
Changes in blood pressureSeizures
Abdominal painBrain swelling
Shortness of breath
Headache and confusion
Diarrhea or constipation
Feeling of irritation
Change in heartbeat and rate

Impact of Electrolyte Imbalances

Mild imbalances do not cause pronounced effects. But, severe electrolyte imbalances bring a lot of harassing impacts. Like a case of an individual having episodes of feeling weak and losing consciousness.

Severe impacts include having hampered essential body functions. Moreover, these can disrupt kidney function and other organs.

Most importantly, untreated electrolyte disorders cause muscle weakness and numbness in limbs. These impacts can deteriorate your quality of life. Also, electrolyte imbalances mess up acid-base balance leading to metabolic acidosis.

But, it is important to note that the impacts of specific electrolyte imbalance differ from those of other electrolyte deficiencies.

How to Treat Electrolyte Imbalance?

Natural Remedies

Natural food

electrolyte imbalance
Photo: Pexels

Food can be a good strategy as a natural remedy for treating mild imbalances. You need to supplement your diet with fruits and vegetables to have a good electrolyte balance.

You can get plenty of electrolytes from leafy vegetables, fermented food, and fruits. Like, spinach packed with magnesium is good for managing magnesium deficiency. On the other hand, pickle juice contains abundant sodium and chloride.

You can consider this food a non-boring yet healthy choice for increasing your sodium levels. But don’t overdo it, as very high sodium levels can cause hypertension.

Cooking strategies

Salt, an added ingredient in every cooked food, supplies sodium. Plus, you get sodium from seafood, vegetables, and cheese.

So, consider this electrolyte’s possible sources during cooking to avoid having more or too little sodium. Avoid using store-bought marinade or sauces as they can cause sodium imbalances in the long run.

As simple as drinking water

Most treatments aim at increasing electrolytes. What if you have excess electrolytes and need to balance them?

Just simply drink water to make the electrolyte level balanced. Being easily available and cheap, water offers a good way of fixing excess electrolytes.

Eating methods

Adding salt while eating food is a bad practice. This habit can cause elevated blood pressure and deteriorate cardiac health.

Most importantly, don’t blindly buy electrolyte-rich foods or drinks sold in the market. Also, understand your lifestyle and health conditions before having any. Like, having sports drinks without exercising or being in sports can bring more harm than good.

All the strategies under natural remedies function better if applied for mild to moderate imbalances. But, these are not for immediately treating patients with a case of a severe electrolyte imbalance admitted. Such individuals need emergency medicine and professional medical care.


If you have an electrolyte imbalance, you need to reduce the hours of exercise. Because having such intense physical activity causes sweating. This effect may cause a 2 to 6% of loss in body weight.

If not hydrated properly following the exercise, electrolyte imbalance can result. You can also change the type of exercise you do unless the condition gets cured.


In clinical practice of treating electrolyte imbalance, there are certain medications. These include electrolytes given in different ways and chemical agents.

Electrolyte replacement therapy

It encompasses giving the deficient electrolyte through intravenous channels or orally.

Oral re-hydration therapy

It aims to treat dehydration and electrolyte shortage. This therapy includes using an aqueous solution containing chlorides of sodium and potassium, glucose, and sodium citrate.

IV fluids

These include added supplements to intravenous routes involving blood vessels. But, the supplement depends on the deficiency you have.

Having an internal medicine like this gives immediate results. IV medications can include magnesium chloride and calcium gluconate.

Oral Medicinal supplements

These operate for chronic electrolyte disorders. Examples of these supplements include Renagel and Fosrenol for phosphate treatment.

Calcium interventions include calcium carbonate, lactate, or citrate. Magnesium-containing medications encompass magnesium oxide.


Sports Drinks

Many sports drinks contain potassium chloride and sodium chloride. These contribute to compensating electrolytes lost during exercise.

One such popular drink is Gatorade. Over the years, it has continued to gain popularity as an exercise and electrolyte drink. But, as indicated by peer-reviewed studies, such drinks carry artificial sweeteners, which can encourage weight gain and heart issues.

All Natural Supplement For Proper Hydration and Improved Brain Function: Dr. Berg’s Electrolyte Powder

Dr. Berg's Electrolyte Powder
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A dietary supplement full of natural ingredients that support endurance, hydration, healthy muscle function and elevated energy—without the sugary gunk. 

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Dr. Berg’s Electrolyte Powder is a natural electrolyte supplement for ensuring proper body functioning. It contains calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Also, it has trace elements that elevate the health significance of the product.

This powder supplement comes in interesting and tasty flavors like lemon raspberry. But the taste comes from natural fruit and sweeteners. So, you don’t need to worry about artificial flavoring agents having damaging effects.

This product’s no-sugar formula helps in keeping you energized for a longer period. Most importantly, the strategic formulation of electrolytes promote hydration and improved brain functions.

Needless to say, these functions help in improving muscle activity. All the benefits and ingredients make the supplement apt for people having regular exercise or workouts.

After grueling exercise hours, having this supplement brings back the mineral and electrolytes to normal levels. This surely prevents you from feeling drained.

The supplement’s balanced ratios of sodium, potassium, and glucose help maintain cellular water concentration. This impact, in turn, ensures that metabolic processes operate smoothly. Taking care of the metabolic status almost guarantees overall good health.

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Full Article: Dr. Berg’s Electrolyte Powder Reviews 2024: Does it Really Work?

How to Keep Electrolyte Balance in Body Fluids?

Believe it or not, drinking sufficient water is good for keeping yourself healthy and hydrated. This strategy also keeps proper electrolyte balances in body fluids.

Also, wellness professionals highly recommend having balanced meals. Being well-nourished helps in managing electrolytes in your body.

But, you may need extra measures during summer or excessive physical work. You can have coconut water as a natural chemical-free option to compensate for lost electrolytes. Also, you can opt for low-sugar containing sports drinks.

Another interesting yet effective strategy for preventing electrolyte imbalance can be managing stress. Having higher stress can cause adrenal fatigue hampering electrolyte levels in your body.

If any underlying cause contributes to electrolyte imbalance, treating the imbalance merely will not help. In such cases, treating the health issue keeps the electrolytes balanced.


Electrolyte imbalances may appear simple but can progress and cause severe impacts. Moreover, these carry serious implications, including kidney disease. So, these abnormalities call for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Also, electrolyte balancing calls for mindful eating and cooking. For severe electrolyte cases requiring immediate action, IV fluids are applicable.

We recommend Dr. Berg’s Electrolyte Powder for keeping your electrolyte levels at optimum range. Most importantly, it is naturally flavored with Stevia and fruits. This feature excludes the bad impacts of having artificial sweeteners and flavoring agents.

This supplement works best for people who work out or exercise regularly. Being a good source of calcium and other electrolytes, this powder replenishes electrolytes making you feel energized and healthy.

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Electrolyte Imbalance FAQs

Are electrolyte drinks good for your health?

The answer depends on your health status or requirements. Having excess electrolytes without any requirement can lead to an imbalance. If you work out regularly or sweat heavily, you can opt for an electrolyte drink.

Also, you need such drinks if you have diarrhea or are vomiting regularly. But, before buying these, make sure to check their ingredients.

Is having sports drinks compulsory if you do any intense exercise?

Doing heavy exercise causes sweating that can favor an electrolyte imbalance. So, having sports drinks following a strenuous workout can help.

These contain carbs and electrolytes. But you can make your own version of a homemade electrolyte drink.

What are the signs to ensure you lack electrolyte disturbances?

An important sign of having good electrolyte balance is clear or straw-colored urine. Also, having no cramps or dizziness may indicate your electrolytes are in order.

But, a lack of no such symptoms can overlap with the absence of other disorders or diseases. Keep a close check for symptoms of electrolyte imbalances after prolonged vomiting or diarrhea.

Vanessa Richards

Vanessa is a mom of 3 lovely children and a software geek. Outside of her career as a health and wellness instructor. She enjoys writing and researching on topics such as finance, software, health and culinary.

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