Weekly First-aid Topic: Electrolyte imbalance
From:Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning


Today (April 18th), a bus stopped at the front door of the Beijing Emergency Center. A male passenger on the bus suddenly fainted and the bus passed the Heping Gate and sent the patient to the hospital. The 120 doctors performed preliminary examinations on blood sugar, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram. The conditions of the man were stable. It is learnt later that the men did not eat anything from last night till this morning, and electrolyte imbalance may lead to fainting.

Electrolyte disorders include sodium metabolic disorders, potassium metabolic disorders, calcium metabolism disorders, abnormal magnesium ion metabolism and etc. Mild hyponatremia may lead to decreased gustation, muscle soreness. Moderate hyponatremia may cause headache, personality changes, nausea, vomiting, etc. Severe hyponatremia brings coma and areflexia. Hyperkalemia is manifested in the following three aspects: 1. Severe arrhythmia, irregular breathing, etc. 2. Early manifestations of Hyperkalemia are muscle pain and weakness. Respiratory muscle paralysis may occur when the symptoms are significantly severe shown in limbs. 3. Indifferent mental state and unresponsiveness to the outside world, or excitement, emotional instability, restlessness, etc. Severe hyperkalemia may lead to disturbance of consciousness, drowsiness, and coma.

Prevention is the key. It is recommended to drink plenty of water every day to avoid dehydration. In addition, maintaining a balanced diet is also very helpful in preventing electrolyte imbalances. In severe cases, intravenous injection of fluids is also needed to return the electrolyte to normal levels.