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Semin Dial. 2006 Nov-Dec;19(6):496-501.

Electrolyte disturbances in the intensive care unit.

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Section of Nephrology and Hypertension, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756-0001, USA.


The development of many electrolyte disturbances in the ICU can be prevented by attention to the use of intravenous fluids and nutrition. Hyponatremia is a relative contraindication to the use of hypotonic intravenous fluids and hypernatremia calls for the administration of water. Formulae have been devised to guide the therapy of severe hyponatremia and hypernatremia. All formulae regard the patient as a closed system, and none takes into account ongoing fluid losses that are highly variable between patients. Thus, therapy of severe hyponatremia and hypernatremia must be closely monitored with serial electrolyte measurements. The significance of hypocalcemia in the critically ill is controversial. Hypokalemia, hypophosphatemia, and hypomagnesemia should be corrected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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