Electrolytes are essential minerals your body needs to function properly. These minerals – such as sodium, calcium, and potassium – are present in many of the foods and drinks you consume.
Electrolytes are important because these minerals help to balance water levels in your body and regulate chemical reactions. Electrolytes support proper hydration, energy production, muscle contraction (including your heart’s ability to beat), blood pressure, and much more.
Kidney Patients at Risk
Your electrolyte levels can vary, depending on the amount of water in your body. The most common electrolyte imbalances involve potassium and sodium. Patients with impaired kidney function are especially susceptible to electrolyte disorders because the kidneys are no longer able to filter and remove excess fluid from the blood. The most common electrolyte imbalances associated with poor kidney function are hyperkalemia and hyponatremia.
Hyperkalemia (High Potassium)
When there is too much potassium in your blood, it is called hyperkalemia. This can cause mild to severe symptoms that occur suddenly or develop over time. These symptoms may include:
- Muscle weakness, numbness, tingling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath