Early recognition and treatment of electrolyte abnormalities protect the patient from derangements in the renal, myocardiac, and central nervous systems. Correction of electrolyte derangements decreases both morbidity and mortality.
Our recent issue Pediatric Electrolyte Emergencies: Recognition and Management in the Emergency Department reviews sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus abnormalities and provides a systematic approach to the evaluation and management of the ill child with an electrolyte emergency.
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Here are a few key points:
- Electrolyte emergencies may present with a wide variety of findings. Obtain a thorough history and physical examination to investigate the etiology of electrolyte derangement.
- See Table 2 for a summary of the most common and most life-threatening electrolyte derangements.
- Consider total-body volume and water balance, as these are integral components to determine the rate at which certain electrolytes are corrected.
- See Table 5 for a list of recommended laboratory tests to obtain when differentiating electrolyte emergencies.