Electrolyte imbalance is relatively easy to treat. If the condition goes untreated, however, electrolyte imbalance can become fatal. In order to catch electrolyte imbalance at its earliest stages and treat the condition, it is important to be familiar with all of the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance, as they are different depending on which of the three major electrolytes are thrown off (Merck & Co., Inc.).
Low sodium levels can cause drowsiness, muscle weakness, and confusion. If sodium levels become too low, seizures can result (Merck & Co., Inc.).
When sodium levels are too high, the individual will feel weak and sluggish. These symptoms are present when the sodium levels are moderately high. When high sodium levels become more severe, this can result in the patient developing symptoms, like paralysis, seizures, coma, and confusion. At this point, the situation becomes severe, and the patient is in danger of dying (Merck & Co., Inc.).
When potassium levels are slightly low, symptoms are rarely present. In this instance, the patient is unaware that there is even a problem. If the potassium levels remain low for a long period of time, symptoms will eventually become present. For instance, blood sugar levels may increase as a result of the body producing less insulin. If the potassium levels become too low, weakness, confusion, and cramping and weakness of the muscles result. Severely low levels of potassium can cause heart abnormalities and paralysis (Merck & Co., Inc.).
If potassium levels are too high, the patient will develop an abnormal heart rhythm. If the condition goes untreated, it will most certainly become fatal. When this symptom is present, it is a good idea to consult a medical professional right away (Merck & Co., Inc.).
When a low calcium level is present, the individual will experience numbness in the limbs and weakness all over. More severe symptoms include seizures and confusion. In some cases, the bones may even become brittle (Merck & Co., Inc.).
When calcium levels are slightly high, symptoms may not be present. In such cases, the patient will not be aware that the calcium levels are off balance. Severely high calcium levels, on the other hand, result in appetite loss, confusion, vomiting, dehydration, and weakness. If the high calcium levels persist, the individual can end up in a coma and die (Merck & Co., Inc.).
When any of these symptoms are present, it is important to consult a medical professional. The medical professional can best advice on what should be done next. Furthermore, the medical professional can best handle severe symptoms, if the electrolyte imbalance ever gets to that point (Merck & Co., Inc.).
Merck & Co., Inc. “Problems with Electrolyte Balance.” The Merck Manual of Health & Aging. N.p.,
2009-2010. Web. 30 June 2010. ch18d.html>.