The levels of the ions (electrically charged particles) of sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate in the blood must be in perfect balance in the body in order to maintain the acidity of the blood within very narrow boundaries. They are collectively known as electrolytes, and all can be very accurately measured. If the levels of these ions varies significantly from normal, the electrical activity of the brain and nerves, and the function of the heart and other organs may be adversely affected.

Conditions such as severe diarrhoea, prolonged vomiting, dehydration, kidney failure, massive infection, diabetes and starvation can affect electrolyte levels.

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(Last modified: 7th Oct 2014)

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