3 Signs of Electrolyte Imbalance (and What to Do About It!)

An electrolyte imbalance can easily ruin your day. If bad enough, it may put you in a life-threatening situation. Your body needs a mixture of essential minerals to function correctly, such as calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. This electrically charged combination is commonly known as electrolytes, which help your body to stay hydrated and perform other bodily functions. 

If your body is not getting enough or too much of even one of these essential minerals, you may start experiencing symptoms. Although there are many signs of an electrolyte imbalance, we’ve listed three of the most common, as well as what you can do to treat them.

1. Fatigue

Many factors can influence or affect your energy levels. If you're feeling tired or lethargic, you may not have gotten enough sleep from the night before. Sometimes, an illness like a cold can cause fatigue. Even stress can contribute to tiredness. What you may not realize is that fatigue could very well be the result of an electrolyte imbalance.

Electrolytes don’t provide energy. Your body receives energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Typically, your body will first break down carbohydrates into glucose. If your body runs out of carbs, it will then turn to fats, followed by proteins. Once broken down into glucose, it gets distributed to your cells. Electrolytes are significant in that they help with the conversion and distribution or transportation of this energy.

So what can be done to treat fatigue? Your body likely needs a little more hydration, as dehydration can cause tiredness. But drinking water isn’t enough. Electrolytes, particularly sodium, help balance water throughout your body. Sodium also helps transport glucose to your cells.

2. Muscle Spasms

A man in pain squeezes his calf muscle.

Have you ever felt your eye start to twitch for no reason? Or, have you ever awakened in the middle of the night due to a painful leg or foot cramp? Sometimes the pain is brief, but it may take several minutes for your leg or foot to relax, depending on the severity. By then, your muscles are sore, and you’re even more exhausted than before. 

Involuntary muscle spasms can seem like a random occurrence; however, you may be overworking your muscles, not stretching enough, or not getting enough fluids with electrolytes into your body.

Magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium, for example, help prevent muscle cramps. These minerals balance your hydration and also aid in muscle health and control (contractions). They’re essential if you tend to exercise a lot, especially in hot temperatures. When you sweat, you lose minerals that need replacing. Hydrating drinks with electrolytes like our HYDRATE supplement can help prevent dehydration and muscles from cramping.

3. Dehydration

We’ve mentioned dehydration can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, but it can also be a sign. Dehydration can occur when you sweat during an exercise or when you vomit or have diarrhea. Anytime your body loses moisture, you lose electrolytes in the process.

If you haven’t already guessed, electrolytes and dehydration are connected. By becoming dehydrated, you lose electrolytes. By losing electrolytes, you become dehydrated. We often classify thirst as a sign of dehydration, but we may not consider other signs or symptoms. For instance, if your body is no longer able to sweat, not only does this mean you’re dehydrated but, your body no longer has the essential minerals needed to sweat. Muscle cramping is also a sign of dehydration and electrolyte deficiency.

Preventing dehydration requires fluids. But electrolytes are needed to help distribute and balance those fluids.

Treat and Prevent

You can treat and prevent most signs or symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance with a well-balanced whole food diet,, plenty of water and a sugar free hydration mix. Select healthy foods rich in minerals. If you’re trying to stay hydrated during a workout or ensure your daily hydration needs are being met for energy, focus and overall health, avoid sugary drinks such as sodas - and surprisingly many hydration drinks! Pick hydrating drinks with broad spectrum electrolytes and minerals that help ensure your hydration is on point.