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Electrolyte Disorders

Renal Clinic of Houston

Nephrology located in Katy, TX & Memorial City, Houston, TX

Electrolyte disorders lead to serious complications as they prevent your muscles, nerves, heart, and brain from functioning. The skilled team at the Renal Clinic of Houston has extensive experience preventing and treating these challenging conditions because chronic kidney disease is one of the top causes of electrolyte imbalances. If you need help with an electrolyte problem, book an appointment today. Connect online, or call the office in Memorial City in Houston, Katy, or North Cypress, Texas.

Electrolyte Disorders Q&A

What are electrolytes?

chronic kidney disease

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge when they dissolve in fluids. You have electrolytes in your blood and in the water that surrounds and flows through all the tissues in your body.

Your nerves need electrolytes to transmit electrical signals. Your muscles, including your heart, depend on electrolytes to contract.

All the electrolytes in the following list affect muscle and nerve activity and have other essential roles to fill:


Sodium affects the total amount of fluids throughout your body, including your blood volume. When sodium levels rise, blood volume increases, which causes high blood pressure.


Potassium supports cellular function. It maintains the fluid volume inside cells and determines the ability of electrical pulses to cross through cell membranes.

This electrolyte also works in conjunction with sodium. Potassium helps regulate body fluids and blood pressure by reducing sodium levels and lowering your blood pressure.


Magnesium maintains strong bones and supports enzyme activity, energy production, and the metabolism of calcium and potassium. It must be present for potassium and sodium to move into and out of cells as they transmit electrical impulses. In this role, magnesium maintains a steady heart rhythm.


Calcium affects the same systems as magnesium, where it maintains balance by having the opposite effect. Calcium stimulates activity, while magnesium slows it down. For example, calcium tightens blood vessels, and magnesium relaxes them. Their relationship is so vital that your body maintains a specific ratio of calcium to magnesium in your blood.

What causes electrolyte disorders?

Your body tightly controls blood levels of electrolytes. If any electrolyte falls above or below the normal range, you have an electrolyte disorder.

Many problems contribute to electrolyte disorders, from dehydration and nutrient malabsorption to hormonal imbalances, cancer treatment, and heart and liver disease.

However, chronic kidney disease poses a significant risk because your kidneys regulate electrolyte levels. When disease damages your kidneys, they can't do their job, and electrolyte disorders develop.

What symptoms indicate I have an electrolyte disorder?

Electrolyte disorders cause a range of symptoms, depending on the electrolyte and the severity of the imbalance. However, they generally cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling and bloating
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue

Severe electrolyte imbalances cause heart failure or cardiac arrest.

How are electrolyte disorders treated?

The Renal Clinic of Houston determines the best treatment based on the type of electrolyte disorder and your symptoms. In addition to providing treatments that restore normal levels, they develop a customized plan to treat kidney disease and other underlying health problems.

If you have questions about electrolyte disorders, call the Renal Clinic of Houston or book an appointment online today.