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Electrolyte Disorders

Nephrology & Hypertension serving Middle Tennessee

Electrolyte Disorders services offered throughout Middle tennessee

Electrolyte disorders range from mild and barely noticeable to severe and life-threatening. The experienced team at Southern Kidney Specialists, with offices throughout Middle Tennessee, specializes in diagnosing and treating this complex group of disorders. An electrolyte disorder can develop suddenly or slowly, but either way, don’t wait to seek help as soon as you notice symptoms. Call the nearest office or use the online booking feature today.

What is an electrolyte disorder?

An electrolyte is a mineral that carries an electrical charge when it dissolves in your blood and body fluids. Your nerves depend on electrolytes to transmit signals, making these minerals essential for life.

Your body tightly controls electrolyte levels in your blood. An electrolyte disorder occurs when blood levels fall below or rise above the normal range.

What are the different electrolyte disorders?

Electrolytes like bicarbonate and chloride control the body’s acid-base balance. The four electrolytes essential for muscle, heart, and nerve function include:


Sodium stays in fluids outside cells, regulating fluid levels and directly influencing your blood volume and pressure.


Potassium is primarily found inside cells. The mineral works together with sodium to trigger nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Potassium also helps offset high sodium levels, helping to lower blood pressure.


Magnesium supports energy production. It also has a role in nerve function and is especially important for maintaining a steady heart rhythm and relaxing blood vessels.


Calcium is well known for building strong bones, but as an electrolyte, it also helps control your muscles, heart rhythm, and nerve activity. Magnesium and calcium balance one another — where calcium stimulates activity, magnesium slows or relaxes them.

What are the symptoms of an electrolyte disorder?

If you have an electrolyte disorder, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps or twitching
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Rapid breathing

In severe cases, electrolyte disorders lead to a coma and cardiac arrest (your heart stops).

What causes electrolyte disorders?

Conditions that make you lose a lot of fluids, like diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive sweating, cause electrolyte disorders because the minerals leave your body along with the fluids.

You may also develop an electrolyte imbalance if you take certain medications or have:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Congestive heart failure

Kidney disease is one of the top causes of electrolyte disorders because your kidneys regulate fluid and electrolyte levels as they filter your blood.

How are electrolyte disorders treated?

Southern Kidney Specialists treats the root cause of your electrolyte disorder while restoring the balance of electrolytes. However, the treatments vary, depending on the underlying cause.

If you need help with an electrolyte disorder, call Southern Kidney Specialists or request an appointment online today.