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What are Some Symptoms of an Electrolyte Imbalance?

Sports Nutrition Certifcation

Fitness and nutrition programs complement each other to ensure that proper dietary intakes are met for improved health and performance. Fitness and nutrition training are important when participating in sports so that you can prevent electrolyte imbalances. Electrolyte imbalances can range from mild to severe and impact performance and in extreme cases, earn you an undesired trip to the emergency room. Learning about the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance can help you take action before it becomes severe. Here are some symptoms to watch out for if you suspect yourself or someone else might be suffering from an electrolyte imbalance:

  • Water retention and bloating. Fluid retention is caused by an imbalance of sodium, one of the chemical components of electrolytes. Sodium helps the body regulate fluids and assists the body in pushing those fluids throughout the body. If sodium levels are off, the fluids remain in the stomach and slosh around. Fitness resource associates suggest drinking 12-16oz. of electrolyte replacement or sports drink for every forty-five minutes of outdoor or strenuous activity.
  • Nausea or vomiting. Having an electrolyte imbalance can cause an upset stomach or GI distress. Nutrition and wellness consultant professionals remind athletes to be mindful of fluid intake and to remember to stay hydrated, even if you do not feel thirsty. If you wait until you feel thirsty, it is often too late and can be difficult to catch up on lost electrolytes during sports events.
  • Fatigue. Electrolyte imbalances can cause irregular heart rhythms and extreme fatigue.  Some athletes may pass out or suffer from organ failure if electrolyte loss is high and not replenished. A certified nutrition consultant can help you find electrolyte supplements that work best for you.  
  • Confusion or altered mental state. Having an electrolyte imbalance affects the blood flow in the body and the amount of oxygen the brain receives. If blood flow is restricted due to electrolyte loss, the brain’s oxygen levels are restricted too. Staying hydrated and using sports drinks or supplements to help assist with electrolyte replenishment can help prevent fatigue and nausea. A licensed dietician can help with meal planning ideas if you have a lot of food allergies or sensitivities.   
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