FLUID & ELECTROLYTE DISORDERS (Fluid & Electrolyte Imbalance)
FLUID & ELECTROLYTE DISORDERS
(Fluid & Electrolyte Imbalance)
Fluid and electrolyte disorders refer to an imbalance in the mixture of water and salts (electrolytes) needed for normal body function. Necessary salts contain sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, and phosphate. All body parts--even hard bone -- are bathed in a precise blend of water and natural salts.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Self-care after diagnosis of a minor imbalance.
Hospitalization for intravenous fluids and treatment of a serious imbalance, including the underlying cause. This is especially important in infants. Dehydration with fluid and electrolyte imbalance can be life-threatening in the very young.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSDry mouth.
Increased, decreased, or absent urination.
Puffy legs, hands, face, or abdomen.
Weakness and confusion.
Depends on whether water or salts are out of proportion. The following may indicate either imbalance problem:
Some medications, such as diuretics.
Nasogastric tubes during hospitalization.
Fluid and salts may accumulate from:
Congestive heart failure.
Excess intravenous fluids.
Acute or chronic kidney failure.
Chronic lung disease.
Use of cortisone drugs, female hormones, or sodium bicarbonate.
Fluid and salts may be lost by:
Fever; kidney disease; diabetes mellitus; heart disease; anorexia nervosa or bulimia; use of diuretics; infancy and early childhood -- infants and young children lose fluid very quickly when sick; alcoholism.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEFor vomiting or diarrhea, give the child small amounts of clear liquids every 30 minutes; during serious illness, keep a fluid-balance record (see HOME CARE).
Your own observation of symptoms; medical history and physical exam by a doctor; laboratory studies of the child's urine, stool, blood, and electrolytes -- especially sodium, chloride, and potassium; radioactive studies of the child's total body water.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSDehydration; heartbeat irregularities; cardiac arrest; death.
Usually curable in 24 to 48 hours with early treatment of your child, depending on the underlying cause.
Keep a fluid-balance record during a child's serious illness at home. Record liquids taken in each day; use a measuring cup to estimate. Measure and record how much urine is passed each day. Ask your doctor if you need to save a specimen for testing.
Weigh your child daily on an accurate home scale. Any sudden weight increase or decrease may indicate fluid changes.
MEDICATIONFor fluid loss in your child, your doctor may prescribe:
-- Salt-containing drinks to make at home.
-- Intravenous fluids during hospitalization.
For fluid accumulation and sodium overload in your child, your doctor may prescribe diuretics and potassium supplements.
Your child should rest in bed until strength returns.
DIET & FLUIDS
For a serious fluid imbalance, your doctor may withhold solid food from the child until the fluid imbalance returns to normal.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, after imbalanced fluids and electrolytes have returned to normal and sense of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of a fluid and electrolyte imbalance.
Your child's weight increases or decreases 4 or more pounds in 1 day.