The main electrolytes that are measured in chemistry profiles are:
Because electrolytes are essential to proper functioning of cells, the body maintains their concentrations within fairly narrow limits. The main mechanisms to consider for changes in electrolyte concentrations are:
- Changes in free water: This particularly affects sodium and chloride.
- Intake: This minimally affects sodium and chloride but is substantial for potassium.
- Translocation: This means the electrolyte moves across cellular membranes, from inside cells to the extracellular fluid or vice versa.
- Excretion/loss: This occurs through various routes, including the gastrointestinal system (feces, saliva), kidneys (urine) and skin (sweat, burns).