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Electrolyte Disorders


Overview :

Electrolytes are ionized molecules found throughout the blood, tissues, and cells of the body. These molecules, which are either positive (cations) or negative (anions), conduct an electric current and help to balance pH and acid-base levels in the body. Electrolytes also facilitate the passage of fluid between and within cells through a process known as osmosis and play a part in regulating the function of the neuromuscular, endocrine, and excretory systems.

The serum electrolytes include:

  • Sodium (Na). A positively charged electrolyte that helps to balance fluid levels in the body and facilitates neuromuscular functioning.
  • Potassium (K). A main component of cellular fluid, this positive electrolyte helps to regulate neuromuscular function and osmotic pressure.
  • Calcium (Ca). A cation, or positive electrolyte, that affects neuromuscular performance and contributes to skeletal growth and blood coagulation.
  • Magnesium (Mg). Influences muscle contractions and intracellular activity. A cation.
  • Chloride (CI). An anion, or negative electrolyte, that regulates blood pressure.
  • Phosphate (HPO4). Negative electrolyte that impacts metabolism and regulates acid-base balance and calcium levels.
  • Bicarbonate (HCO3). A negatively charged electrolyte that assists in the regulation of blood pH levels. Bicarbonate insufficiencies and elevations cause acid-base disorders (i.e., acidosis, alkalosis).

Medications, chronic diseases, and trauma (for example, burns, or fractures etc.) may cause the concentration of certain electrolytes in the body to become too high (hyper-) or too low (hypo-). When this happens, an electrolyte imbalance, or disorder, results.




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