Paper Example on Fluids and Electrolytes

Published: 2021-07-21
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George Washington University
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Term paper
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Electrolytes refer to ions that have either a positive or negative charge. Fluids, on the other hand, are intracellular or extracellular liquids that aid in the transportation of electrolytes and other fundamental chemicals around the body. Their composition and content are well regulated depending on the body needs (Metheny, 2011). Electrolyte and their level play a significant role in life. An example is they assist in moving fluids around the body, contracting muscles and producing energy among many other functions. Similar to endocrine hormones, they are controlled by the feedback mechanism. It takes place when kidneys and the adrenal gland notice a deficit of a particular electrolyte and imbalance relative to their balance.

Electrolytes in the body are either positively or negatively charged, and they include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, sulfate and bicarbonate (Metheny, 2011). Imbalance of the electrolytes gets referenced in terms of deficit and their signs and symptoms in addition to treatment options are analyzed in depth below.

The first electrolyte is sodium. The standard range is between 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). It plays a significant role relating to the bodys fluid balance and affects the working of muscles and the central nervous system. The level of fluid in plasma is directly impacted by the sodium content available. Hypernatremia is a disorder that occurs when the level of sodium exceeds the maximum limit (McLafferty, Johnstone, Hendry & Farley, 2014). Many factors contribute to the condition such as diabetes insipidus, fever, dehydration, diarrhea, diaphoresis, intense heat and exercises, and vomiting. Common signs and symptoms of hypernatremia include thirst, restlessness, edema, confusion, and coma or death in severe situations (Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances: NCLEX-RN). Forms of treatment include reduction of sodium in the diet and management of the underlying causes.

Hyponatremia, on the other hand, results from a decline in the level of sodium below the minimum. Common factors leading to the disorder include antidiuretic hormones, medications like diuretics, various antidepressants, and water intoxication. Additionally, diseases and ailments such as thyroid renal and heart failure, pneumonia, hypothyroidism, primary polydipsia, and cerebral disorder contribute to the situation. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include vomiting, nausea, headaches, seizures, irritability, and restlessness (Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances: NCLEX-RN). Treatment would involve management of underlying causes, fluid restriction, diuretic medication and replacement of hormones if Addison's disease were a cause.

Potassium is the other electrolyte. The average level ranges from 3.7 to 5.2 mEq/L. Unlike sodium which is intracellular, potassium is extracellular. The electrolyte facilitates electrical impulses necessary for brain functioning and muscular contractions. Hyperkalemia is a disorder where the level of potassium exceeds the maximum limit. Signs and symptoms associated with hyperkalemia include paralysis, nausea, weakness, and threatening cardiac dysrhythmias (McLafferty et al., 2014). Hypokalemia refers to the other ailment where the level of potassium declines below the minimum. Factors causing the situation include vomiting, diarrhea and diaphoresis, medications such laxatives, and diseases like ketoacidosis. Minor causes can be asymptomatic while severe ones involve muscular spasms, numbness, tingling, headaches, constipation, palpitations, and cardiac arrests in acute cases. Forms of treatment include taking care of electrolyte imbalance and potassium supplements.

The third electrolyte is magnesium. The average level is between 1.7 to 2.2 mg/dL. It plays a fundamental role in brain neuron activities, contraction of skeletal muscles and enzyme activities. It also takes part in the metabolism of calcium, sodium, and potassium. Hypermagnesemia refers to the excessive amount of magnesium in the body (Tryniszewski, 2007). People with Addisons disease and kidney illnesses are at higher risk of getting the disorder. Signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, muscular weakness, respiratory paralysis and central nervous system depression. Treatment involves avoidance of causative medication such as laxatives and administration of calcium gluconate.

Hypomagnesemia refers to the minimal amount of magnesium in the body. Some of the causative agents include prolonged use of diuretics, diarrhea, hypoparathyroidism, and medications such as cisplatin and cyclosporine. The signs and symptoms are numbness, convulsion, cramps, fatigue, and nystagmus (Tryniszewski, 2007). Treatment includes the use of drugs to decrease pain and administration of intravenous fluids.

Phosphate is the other electrolyte. The standard level ranges from 0.81 to 1.45 mmol/L. Hyperphosphatemia is an ailment referring to the presence of excessive phosphate in serum. Risk factors associated with the condition include systemic infections, hypoparathyroidism, rhabdomyosis and damage of muscular tissues. Familiar signs and symptoms include muscular spasms, cramping, tetany, and crystal accumulations in the circulatory system. The condition brings about complications such as myocardial infractions, impaired circulation, and cerebrovascular accidents (Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances: NCLEX-RN). The most appropriate forms of treatment are the restriction of diets with high phosphate content such as egg yolks and taking of medications.

On the other hand, hypophosphatemia refers to minimal phosphate amount in the body. Frequent risk factors associated with the condition are chronic diarrhea, severe burns and malnutrition, leukemia and hepatic failure (Metheny, 2011). In chronic circumstances, the ailment can cause death, confusion, coma, and cardiac dysrhythmias. Possible treatment options include cardiac monitoring and taking of high phosphorus foods such as milk.

Chloride is another important electrolyte. Standard level varies between 97 to 107 mEq/L. Hyperchloremia refers to the availability of high amounts of chloride in the body. It can occur as a result of dehydration, renal diseases, hyponatremia and medications such as supplemental hormones. Some signs and symptoms of hyperchloremia include extreme thirst, dehydration, hypertension, Kussmauls breathing, and tachypnea (Tryniszewski, 2007). Forms of treatment include administration of fluids and elimination of problematic medications.

Hypochloremia which is minimal chloride level can occur due to hypoventilation, cystic fibrosis, and metabolic alkalosis. Evident signs and symptoms include hyponatremia, muscular spasticity, and diaphoresis (Metheny, 2011) Administration of hydrochloric acid and carbonic anhydrase inhibitor are various treatment forms.

On the same subject, there are various conditions brought about by fluid and the imbalance of fluids. Hypervolemia is an example, and it is the abnormal rise of the liquid level in the blood specifically in the plasma. It is mainly as a result of increased sodium quantities, renal and heart failure, and excessive supplementation that become unmanageable. Evident signs and symptoms include dyspnea, adventitious breath abdominal ascites, and peripheral edema (Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances: NCLEX-RN). Besides treatment, other ways to manage the condition are fluid and sodium restrictions.

Hypovolemia, alternatively, is a deficit of body fluids. The condition can occur before hemorrhage and bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea and acute dehydration. The inadequate fluid level in the body can lead to complications such as lower cardiac output, metabolic acidosis, death, comma, hypovolemic shock and multisystem failure. Beyond regular treatment of the ailment, other crucial interventions include intravenous rehydration (Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances: NCLEX-RN). Additionally, one can place the client in a Trendelenburg position and the administration of blood products, and plasma expander directed by acuteness of the ailment.

In conclusion, fluids and electrolytes are essential components in the body since they play fundamental roles that are critical for various body processes. Therefore, it is important for consistent checks to ensure that they are at the required level to mitigate the arising of any ailment.


Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances: NCLEX-RN. (2010). Retrieved September 13, 2017 from - electrolyte - imbalances.

McLafferty, E., Johnstone, C., Hendry, C., & Farley, A. (2014). Fluid and electrolyte balance. Nursing Standard, 28(29), 42-49.

Metheny, N. M. (2011). Fluid and electrolyte balance. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Tryniszewski, C. (2007). Signs & symptoms of fluid and electrolyte imbalances. New Cumberland, PA: Blanchard & Loeb Publishers.

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