Fluids and Electrolytes . . . Your Body's Power Source!

Issue Five

 

"Body fluid balance is particularly critical to people with urinary diversions or gastrointestinal stomas."


"...with any measurable drop in your electrolyte levels or body fluid balance, you just are not going to feel like your normal self."


"Don't let your body's battery run low on fluids and electric energy."

Energy

Just as your car's battery uses water to help produce electric energy, your body demands the same. In fact, both you and your car just won't run without this vital ingredient to get the required charge and force of energy.

Body fluid balance is particularly critical with people who have had urinary diversions or gastrointestinal stomas. Why? Because, due to surgical changes in the body's functions, this may accelerate changes in the total fluid balance and accentuate the imbalance on your total health.

Year-round awareness

Maintaining proper body fluid balance is important to everyone. It applies to everyone from the very active young to the lesser active seniors. It applies to well-conditioned athletes engaged in rigorous competition, to workers doing physical and demanding labor, to (sedentary) individuals involved in mental activities as well as environmental conditions. It applies to females just as much as it does to males. It is not seasonal. Extreme hot and humid weather will stress the body's needs. Winter produces its own weary physical demand on the body as well, along with illness, all of which creates serious body fluid imbalance. Regulation of body fluid is a year-round business for everyone.

Why are electrolytes so important?

Electrolytes are basic life substances which dissolve in water and conduct your vital body electricity. These charged ions are either positive cations (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium) or negative anions (bicarbonate, chloride, phosphate, sulfate, organic acids and protein compounds). Electrolytes are related to the body's water distribution, absorption, diffusion, acid-base balance and nerve & muscle reaction. The presence and balance of these electrolytes determine just how well or poorly your entire body performs this complex and vital function.

What causes body fluid and electrolyte deficiency?

The most common causes are:

  • Severe or extended illness involving high fever, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Long periods of extremely hot weather and perspiration
  • Extraordinary physical exercise or work activity
  • Extreme changes in diet or reduced fluid intake.

Your body will release large amounts of body fluid through the skin, lungs and kidneys when elevated body temperatures occur. This is a natural response and acts as a safety valve to relieve an overheated system. In the process you not only deplete normal body fluid content but also the natural balance of electrolytes chemistry.

What does body fluid and electrolyte deficiency do to you?

A varying combination of nervous and muscular disorders may occur:

  • Depending on the degree or extent by which electrolyte deficiency occurs or,
  • Whether the fluid imbalance is a deficit or excessive condition.

The nature of the fluid shift within your body is also a factor. The impact can range from small to great, from tremors to convulsions, diarrhea to constipation, fatigue to paralysis, slow to rapid breathing, or from low pulse rate to cardiac arrest. We hope you never have to face any of these conditions and most likely this will never happen to you. The important thing to recognize is that with any measurable drop in your electrolyte levels or body fluid balance, you just are not going to feel like your normal self. You may feel lazy, indifferent, have a tingling sensation in your fingers or just feel generally out of sorts. But you need not if you keep your bodies battery balanced with fluids and electrolyte content.

What is the solution?

The first, and possibly most obvious solution, is to drink greater amounts of water and at the same time increase your greater-than-average intake of electrolytes. The average person with a reasonably good diet regime may get sufficient electrolyte and fluid input for his or her everyday energy replenishment. However, after severe body stress the body will require an increased electrolyte supplement to offset the extra water usage that the body has lost and is demanding. For the ostomate, particularly those with urinary diversions or gastrointestinal stomas, it is probably beneficial to supplement your electrolyte intake. During these special periods of stress and demand it is important to consider a regular and reasonable electrolyte supplement to your normal diet.

When serious illness or surgery is the cause of body fluid and electrolyte imbalance, the physician will recommend a restorative program. But for the more common occurrences related to weather, minor illness, overwork or exercise, there are simple home remedies you can apply. Orange juice and bananas can add potassium and vitamin C. Bouillon or canned soups will boost sodium levels.

Please keep in mind here, that the important thing to remember ...is... don't let your body's battery run low on fluids and electric energy. Maintain a proper body fluid & electrolyte balance. Take restorative action whenever you engage in heavy physical work or play, encounter sudden illness, or, find yourself in extreme weather conditions that have diminished your vital fuel supply!