Information for Patients
Fluid and Electrolyte Balance
Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge. They are in your blood, urine, tissues, and other body fluids. Electrolytes are important because they help
- Balance the amount of water in your body
- Balance your body's acid/base (pH) level
- Move nutrients into your cells
- Move wastes out of your cells
- Make sure that your nerves, muscles, the heart, and the brain work the way they should
Sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium are all electrolytes. You get them from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink.
The levels of electrolytes in your body can become too low or too high. This can happen when the amount of water in your body changes. The amount of water that you take in should equal the amount you lose. If something upsets this balance, you may have too little water (dehydration) or too much water (overhydration). Some medicines, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and liver or kidney problems can all upset your water balance.
Treatment helps you to manage the imbalance. It also involves identifying and treating what caused the imbalance.
Table salt is a combination of two minerals - sodium and chloride Your body needs some sodium to work properly. It helps with the function of nerves and muscles. It also helps to keep the right balance of fluids in your body. Your kidneys control how much sodium is in your body. If you have too much and your kidneys can't get rid it, sodium builds up in your blood. This can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to other health problems.
Most people in the U.S. get more sodium in their diets than they need. A key to healthy eating is choosing foods low in sodium. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that most adults eat less than 2.3 grams per day. That equals about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others and should eat less. This includes people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney problems, or are African-American or over age 50. Reading food labels can help you see how much sodium is in prepared foods.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Uncommon Infant and Newborn Problems
It can be scary when your baby is sick, especially when it is not an everyday problem like a cold or a fever. You may not know whether the problem is serious or how to treat it. If you have concerns about your baby's health, call your health care provider right away.
Learning information about your baby's condition can help ease your worry. Do not be afraid to ask questions about your baby's care. By working together with your health care provider, you make sure that your baby gets the best care possible.