What do electrolytes do when sick?

When sick, electrolytes play a crucial role in maintaining the body's optimal functioning and promoting faster recovery. Here are some key points supported by scientific and academic research regarding what electrolytes do when sick: 1. Maintain fluid balance: Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, help regulate the balance of fluids inside and outside of cells. This is particularly important during illness when the body may experience increased dehydration due to fever, sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. Electrolytes aid in replenishing lost fluids and restoring a healthy fluid balance in the body. (Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019) 2. Support nerve and muscle function: Electrolytes are essential for transmitting electrical signals between cells and maintaining proper nerve and muscle function. Imbalances in electrolyte levels, often seen during sickness, can lead to muscle weakness, cramps, and tremors. By restoring adequate electrolyte levels, optimal nerve and muscle activities can be maintained, promoting a speedier recovery. (Source: National Institute on Aging - NIH, 2020) 3. Enhance absorption and digestion: Electrolytes aid in the absorption and transport of nutrients across cell membranes, assisting the body in extracting valuable energy and nutrients from food. Their balance is crucial for ensuring proper digestion and nutrient absorption, especially when individuals may have decreased appetite or difficulty eating while sick. (Source: Physiology & Behavior, 2016) 4. Regulate blood pH: Electrolytes help maintain the acid-base balance in the blood. During illness, imbalances can occur due to factors like respiratory distress or metabolic changes. Electrolytes like bicarbonate, in the form of anions, play a significant role in buffering these changes and preserving blood pH within a normal range, which is essential for overall health and recovery. (Source: The Lancet, 2003) 5. Support immune system function: Certain electrolytes, such as zinc, magnesium, and selenium, have immune-modulatory properties. They are involved in the production and activity of immune cells, antibody synthesis, and defense against pathogens. Ensuring adequate electrolyte intake during sickness can support the immune system's ability to fight off infections and promote faster healing. (Source: Nutrients, 2018) It is important to note that the specific needs for electrolyte supplementation during illness may vary depending on the individual's symptoms, severity of sickness, and medical history. Consulting a healthcare professional is always recommended for personalized advice and treatment.

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