Electrolyte Disorders

Electrolytes are important, naturally occurring chemicals in the body, such as calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium and sodium. In most cases, healthy kidneys help regulate electrolyte levels in your blood. An electrolyte disorder occurs when these levels are either too high or too low.

Overview and Symptoms

Mild electrolyte disorders often do not show any symptoms. When the disorder becomes more severe, symptoms include:

  • irregular or quickened heartbeat
  • fatigue
  • convulsions or seizures
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • abdominal cramps
  • muscle weakness and cramps
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • headaches
  • numbness and tingling
If your doctor suspects an electrolyte disorder, your electrolytes levels can be measured by a simple blood test.


Treatment varies, but often include:

  • IV fluids
  • Medications
  • Hemodialysis to remove waste from your blood
  • Dietary supplements


The Division of Nephrology at BIDMC is dedicated to providing leading-edge diagnoses and treatment in overall kidney care.

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