Electrolyte imbalance refers to the abnormal concentration of electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes are important as they help maintain homeostasis (internal physical and chemical conditions) of the body. Examples include the regulation of neurological function, cardiovascular function, acid-base balance, fluid balance, and oxygen delivery.
The kidneys help to maintain electrolyte concentrations at normal levels despite constant changes in the body. Electrolyte imbalances can occur due to reduced elimination of an electrolyte, excessive ingestion, excessive elimination, or diminished ingestion of an electrolyte. Most electrolyte imbalance issues are due to abnormalities of potassium, sodium, and calcium levels.
Some common causes of electrolyte imbalance are due to severe vomiting, diarrhea, chronic laxative abuse, dehydration, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia. This article looks at 10 symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance.
Electrolyte Imbalance Symptom #1: Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms occur when there is involuntary and sudden contraction of a muscle. Spasms can also be caused by a muscle cramp, often accompanied by a burst of pain. The cramp or spasm is usually harmless and resolves on its own after several minutes. It is most commonly caused by muscular fatigue or electrolyte imbalance.
Severe spasms can cause tears in ligaments and tendons if the force exceeds the underlying connective tissue’s tensile strength. Potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium deficiency may cause muscle spasms or cramps.