What are Electrolytes?



Drinking water (especially bottled water) makes me just… *more* thirsty for water.

I generally don’t feel very thirsty through the day. Like, I just don’t feel like I need a drink. But whenever I drink water, like I said, it makes me feel a lot more thirsty like I *need* more water.

It’s as if I’m eating snow, the more “water” I consume the more I feel like it’s actually dehydrating me. And admittedly, sometimes my throat feels more dry, or *still* feels dry after drinking (if I already felt dry).

Someone said it may be because I need more electrolytes. What are those and what do they do? How does this help me not feel like I’m dehydrating when I drink water?

In: Biology

Thirst is triggered by something called high osmolarity.

Electrolytes are things dissolved in blood. The most abundant and the most important electrolyte in blood is sodium. Sodium determines the osmolarity of blood, or in other words how much stuff is dissolved in blood. This is important because water likes to flow from high concentration of stuff to low concentration of stuff (osmosis) so inbalance in amount of sodium can cause water to leave the cells or enter them (causing them to die).

When the concentration of sodium in the blood gets too high, your body triggers thirst in order to add more water to dilute the sodium.

When you exercise, sweat contains a little bit of salt so if you work out and sweat a lot and then only replace the water part then your sodium becomes too low. This does not trigger thirst but rather water retention (you will pee less) to maintain the same concentration of sodium.

For your example: drinking pure water should never make you more thirsty, it seems you just are not taking in enough water your body needs so it keeps sending the thirsty signal. On the other hand, drinking salty sea water will make you thirsty because you are adding water to your blood but also a shit load of salt so you are making the situation worse.

Electrolytes are salts (not necessarily table salt, but it counts as a salt), electrically charged minerals that are key components in our body chemistry. They’re important because your body depends on having them to function.

One example I remember from HS bio is the sodium-potassium pump. What that is is a very small structure your cells have that allows potassium into the cell and salt to flow out of the cell. This sounds small, but maintaining the right levels of salts in your body allows this, and many other functions, to happen. Without the right chemical balance, we start to encounter all sorts of problems, depending on the missing salt.

Now, salts are expelled from our body when we pee, sweat, etc. As a result, we need to keep them up. That’s why sport drinks like Gatorade exist, and contain so much salt and other minerals if you look at the label. Replenishing electrolytes is vital for athletes since they expel so much through sweat. But if you’re not low on them, drinking sports drinks is pretty much like drinking soda.

Over-drinking water can make you need to pee, which carries out some electrolytes. If you’re not intaking any, then you could end up low. An easy remedy is some lemon or other fruit in the water. It adds some salts and sugar for your body, while still being healthy enough for every-day use.

Edit: added more onto the end

Electrolytes are basically salts. They are essential minerals your body needs to function properly. If you’re drinking pure filtered water it is possible, though very unlikely you’re diluting the salts in your body. However this would be the case only if you’re not eating anything and only drinking that water. If you play a lot of sports you sweat out salts along with water, so they say to drink sports drinks with electrolytes to replenish them.

Really though you should probably talk to your doctor if you’re having dehydration issues. Being thirsty all the time is one of the classic symptoms of diabetes.

Electrolytes are ions (minerals) that facilitate electrical activity and osmotic homeostasis (making sure your cells have the right amount of water in them).

The water that you drink probably has electrolytes in it and you probably have enough.

Electrolyte imbalances severe enough to be a concern usually produce more severe signs and symptoms.

I can’t explain the why you get more thirsty when you drink water though. That’s beyond me.

Edit: a word

Excuse me why does it say there are 8 comments when I see only four?

Also thank you to those who answered