WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?
Chemically, electrolytes are substances that become ions in solution and acquire the capacity to conduct electricity. Electrolytes are present in the human body, and the balance of the electrolytes in our bodies is essential for normal function of our cells and our organs. Important electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium and calcium. Many processes in the body, especially in the brain, nervous system, and muscles, require electrical signals for communication. Electrolytes are essential for the regulation of the heartbeat and the function of the muscles.
How does the body keep the electrolyte balance stable?
The human body has a sophisticated system to ensure that the concentration of electrolytes in the body is kept stable. Electrolyte minerals are lost through the loss of fluids from the body and are typically replaced though the array of minerals found in the daily diet. The foods we eat and fluids we drink contain mineral salts, which form electrolytes when they dissolve in the fluids in our bodies. Learn more about electrolytes….
WHAT IS DEHYDRATION?
Dehydration is the loss of water and salts from the body. We need water to maintain enough blood and other fluids to function properly, and to maintain our blood pressure. If fluids are lost and not replaced, a fluid and electrolyte imbalance will occur.
How do we lose fluid?
The body may lose fluids in a variety of ways:
- when urinating;
- when you vomit or have diarrhoea;
- when sweating; and
- from the lungs when you breathe.
Why do we need to replace fluids?
The human body consists of nearly 60 per cent water; brain tissue is said to consist of about 85 per cent water. This is why proper rehydration helps our body function efficiently. It is estimated that if we lost just one-tenth of the water within our body, we would not be able to stand, let alone walk.
Although fluid loss occurs during hard physical work and exercise, even simple tasks like gardening, walking or riding a bike can result in a significant loss of fluid within a very short period, particularly in hot or humid conditions. Learn more about dehydration….
WHAT IS HYPONATREMIA?
Hyponatremia (low blood sodium) occurs when there’s not enough sodium in your blood stream. Hyponatremia has sometimes been referred to as “water intoxication” . Athletes who lose fluid, salts and electrolytes through sweating, and replace their fluid loss with plain water dilute the sodium levels in their blood stream which can cause an electrolyte imbalance.
When sodium levels in the body drop too low, water will begin to enter the cells in the body, causing swelling. The movement of fluid into the cells will also cause swelling in the brain. This is particularly dangerous because the brain is confined in the skull without room for expansion. Hyponatremia can cause headaches, blurred vision, confusion, irritability, nausea and vomiting, muscles cramps, weakness. Learn more about hyponatremia….