Types of Homeostatic Imbalances

Bananas and other foods contain minerals necessary to maintain a balance of electrolytes in the body.
Bananas and other foods contain minerals necessary to maintain a balance of electrolytes in the body. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Homeostatic imbalance occurs when there is a condition of disequilibrium in the body’s internal environment due to an interruption in the interplay of the body’s regulatory processes. It can be caused by an external disruption, such as a hot day, that can result in the loss of body fluids and the minerals they contain. It can also be caused by an internal disruption, such as a fall in blood glucose levels if you forget to eat breakfast, or a psychological disruption, such as stress.

Sodium Imbalance

Sodium plays several important roles in supporting a healthy body. It regulates fluid levels, helps control blood pressure and assists nerves and muscles to function correctly. Low sodium imbalance, called hyponatremia, causes swelling by allowing too much water to enter your cells. There are many causes of this condition, including the side effects of various medications, HIV/AIDS, surgical or emotional stress, head trauma and stroke. High sodium imbalance, called hypernatremia, occurs as a result of inadequate access to water or an impaired mechanism that tells the body it is thirsty. This often happens with infants and elderly adults. Other causes include excess salt intake, water deficit or water loss and the side effects of various medications.

Imbalances of the Skin

Homeostatic imbalances of the skin can be mild to life threatening and all are readily visible. They include athletes foot, skin infections and allergies, cold sores, psoriasis, contact impetigo, burns, boils and carbuncles. Severe burns cause disruptions in the homeostatic balance of the skin when body fluids containing electrolytes and proteins are lost, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes, including potassium, sodium, calcium magnesium chlorine and phosphate, are minerals present in body fluids such as blood, plasma and urine. They can carry an electrical charge and are necessary for nerves and muscles to function effectively. The correct balance of electrolytes can be affected by fluctuating fluid levels in the body. Lack of water replenishment or excessive sweating can lead to low fluid levels or dehydration, causing low electrolyte imbalances that are potentially life threatening. On the other hand, excess amounts of potassium and calcium in the blood can disrupt the overall function of muscles, nerves and the cardiovascular system.

Metabolic Imbalance

Enzymes are protein catalysts produced by all living organisms that speed up chemical reactions in the body. Metabolic enzymes function by converting the food we eat into energy in a process known as metabolism. The pancreas, liver and gallbladder play important roles in the production of these enzymes. Metabolic imbalances or disturbances can be caused by a number of internal and external factors. Symptoms can include low energy or chronic fatigue, chronic diarrhea, chronic inflammation and dysfunctional digestion, including constipation, gas or bloating.

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones are substances produced by glands and organs, that have specific effects on the development or function of another part of the body. Menstrual irregularities such as premenstrual syndrome, absence of a regular period and uterine fibroids are indications of an imbalanced hormonal system in women. Men are affected, usually after the age of 40, by prostate problems which may affect urination, libido and erectile function.

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