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Fluids and Electrolytes


 To maintain good health, a balance of fluids and electrolytes, acids and bases must be normally regulated
for metabolic processes to be in working state.

 A cell, together with its environment in any part of the body, is primarily composed of FLUID.

 Thus fluid and electrolyte balance must be maintained to promote normal function. Potential and actual
problems of fluid and electrolytes happen in all health care settings, in every disorder and with a variety of
changes that affect homeostasis.

 The nurse therefore needs to FULLY understand the physiology and pathophysiology of fluid and
electrolyte alterations so as to identify or anticipate and intervene appropriately.


 a solution of solvent and solute

 a liquid substance where particles can be dissolved
 a substance, either dissolved or suspended in a solution
 a homogeneous mixture of 2 or more substances of dissimilar molecular structure
 usually applied to solids in liquids but applies equally to gasses in liquids

Body Fluids
A. Function
1. Transporter of nutrients , wastes, hormones, proteins and etc
2. Medium or milieu for metabolic processes
3. Body temperature regulation
4. Lubricant of musculoskeletal joints
5. Insulator and shock absorber

B. Body Fluid Compartments
Intracellular Extracellular Transcellular
Within Cells Outside cells Contained in body
55% or 2/3 TBW 42.5% or 1/3 TBW 2.5%
Transport system of our body Not readily utilized by the
Potassium* Sodium* CSF, Pleural fluid,
Phosphates Bicarbonates Synovial Fluid and
Magnesium Chloride peritoneal fluid
Secreted by epithelial
Interstitial Intravascular Bound
Fluid surrounding Within the blood
the cells vessels
20%TBW or 2/3 of 1/3 of ECF Plasma Bone and
ECF 7.5% Cartilage 7.5%
Higher protein Connective
content tissues 7.5%

C. Body Compartment Volumes
Normal values Premature Term 25 yrs 45 yrs 65 yrs
TBW Male: 80% 75% 60% 55% 50%
Female: 50% 47% 45%
ECF 45% 40% 20%
ICF 35% 35% 40%
Blood Volume 90-100 ml/kg 85 ml/kg 70 ml/kg
 neonates reach adult values by 2 yrs and are about half-way by 3 months
 average values ~ 70 ml/100g of lean body mass
 percentage of water varies with tissue type,
A. lean tissues ~ 60-80%
B. bone ~ 20-25%
C. fat ~ 10-15%
D. Tonicity of Body Fluids
 Tonicity refers to the concentration of particles in a solution
 The normal tonicity or osmolarity of body fluids is 250-300 mOsm/L
1. Isotonic
 Same as plasma
2. Hypotonic
 have a lesser or lowers solute concentration than plasma
3. Hypertonic
 higher or greater concentration of solutes

Common Intravenous Solutions
Solution Na Cl- K+ Ca Glu Osm. pH Lact kJ/l
D5W 0 0 0 0 278 253 5 0 840
NaCl 0.9% 150 150 0 0 0 300 5.7 0 0
NaCl 3.0% 513 513 0 0 0 855 5.7 0 0
D4W/NaCL 0.18% 30 30 0 0 222 282 3.5 – 5-5 0 672
Hartmans 129 109 5 0 0 274 6.7 28 37.8
Plasmalyte 140 98 5 294 5.5 27 84
Haemaccel 145 145 5.1 6.25 0 293 7.3 0 0
Mannitol20% 0 0 0 0 0 108 6.2 0 0
Dextran 70 154 154 0 0 0 300 4-7 0 0
 the weight in grams of a substance producing an osmotic pressure of 22.4 atm. when dissolved in 1.0 litre
of solution
 (gram molecular weight) / (no. of freely moving particles per molecule)
 the number of osmoles of solute per kilogram of solvent
 the number of osmoles of solute per litre of solution
 that number of molecules contained in 0.012 kg of C12, or,
 the molecular weight of a substance in grams = Avogadro's number
= 6.023 x 1023
 the number of moles of solute per kilogram of solvent
 is the number of moles of solute per litre of solution


The methods by which electrolytes and other solutes move across biologic membranes are Osmosis,
Diffusion, Filtration and Active Transport. Osmosis, diffusion and filtration are passive processes, while Active
transport is an active process.

 This is the movement of water/liquid/solvent across a semi-permeable membrane from a lesser
concentration to a higher concentration
 Osmotic pressure is the power of a solution to draw water across a semi-permeable membrane
 Colloid osmotic pressure (also called oncotic pressure) is the osmotic pull exerted by plasma proteins

 “Brownian movement” or “downhill movement”
 The movement of particles/solutes/molecules from an area of higher concentration to an area of a
lower concentration
 This process is affected by:
a. The size of the molecules- larger size moves slower than smaller size
b. The concentration of solution- wide difference in concentration has a faster rate of diffusion
c. The temperature- increase in temperature causes increase rate of diffusion
 Facilitated Diffusion is a type of diffusion, which uses a carrier, but no energy is expended. One
example is fructose and amino acid transport process in the intestinal cells. This type of diffusion
is saturable.

 This is the movement of BOTH solute and solvent together across a membrane from an area of
higher pressure to an area of lower pressure
 Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure exerted by the fluids within the closed system in the walls of
the container

 Process where substances/solutes move from an area of lower concentration to an area of higher
concentration with utilization of ENERGY
 It is called an “uphill movement”
 Usually, a carrier is required. An enzyme is utilized also.

Types of Active Transport:
a. Primarily Active Transport
 Energy is obtained directly from the breakdown of ATP
 One example is the Sodium-Potassium pump
b. Secondary Active Transport
 Energy is derived secondarily from stored energy in the form of ionic concentration
difference between two sides of the membrane.
 One example is the Glucose-Sodium co-transport; also the Sodium-Calcium counter-

To maintain homeostasis, many body systems interact to ensure a balance of fluid intake and output. A
balance of body fluids normally occurs when the fluid output is balanced by the fluid input

A. Systemic Regulators of Body Fluids
1. Renal Regulation (RAS)
 This system regulates sodium and water balance in the ECF
 The formation of urine is the main mechanism
 Substance released to regulate water balance is RENIN. Renin activates Angiotensinogen to Angiotensin-I,
A-I is enzymatically converted to Angiotensin-II ( a powerful vasoconstrictor)

2. Endocrine Regulation
 The primary regulator of water intake is the thirst mechanism, controlled by the thirst center in the
hypothalamus (anterolateral wall of the third ventricle)
 Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) is synthesized by the hypothalamus and acts on the collecting ducts of the
 ADH increases rate of water reabsorption
 The adrenal gland helps control F&E through the secretion of ALOSTERONE- a hormone that promotes
sodium retention and water retention in the distal nephron
 ATRIAL NATRIURETIC factor (ANF) is released by the atrial cells of the heart in response to excess
blood volume and increased wall stretching. ANF promotes sodium excretion and inhibits thirst mechanism
3. Gastro-intestinal regulation
 The GIT digests food and absorbs water
 The hormonal and enzymatic activities involved in digestion, combined with the passive and active
transport of electrolyte, water and solutions, maintain the fluid balance in the body.
B. Fluid Intake
 Healthy adult ingests fluid as part of the dietary intake.
 90% of intake is from the ingested food and water
 10% of intake results from the products of cellular metabolism
 Usual intake of adult is about 2, 500 ml per day
 The other sources of fluid intake are: IVF, TPN, Blood products, and colloids
C. Fluid Output
 The average fluid losses amounts to 2, 500 ml per day, counterbalancing the input.
 The routes of fluid output are the following:
 SENSIBLE LOSS- Urine, feces or GI losses, sweat
 INSENSIBLE LOSS- though the skin and lungs as water vapor
 URINE- is an ultra-filtrate of blood. The normal output is 1,500 ml/day or 30-50 ml per hour or 0.5-1 ml
per kilogram per hour. Urine is formed from the filtration process in the nephron
 FECAL loss- usually amounts to about 200 ml in the stool
 Insensible loss- occurs in the skin and lungs, which are not noticeable and cannot be accurately measured.
Water vapor goes out of the lungs and skin.

Water Metabolism
 Daily Balance: turnover ~ 2500 ml
a. Intake
i. drink ~ 1500 ml
ii. food ~ 700 ml
iii. metabolism ~ 300 ml
b. Losses
i. urine ~ 1500 ml
ii. skin ~ 500 ml
 insensible losses ~ 400 ml
 sweat ~ 100 ml
iii. lungs ~ 400 ml
iv. faeces ~ 100 ml
Minimum daily intake ~ 500 ml with a "normal" diet
Minimum losses ~ 1500 ml/d
Losses are increased with;
a. increased ambient T
b. hyperthermia ~ 13% per °C
c. decreased relative humidity
d. increased minute ventilation
e. increased MRO2
Fluid Imbalances

 Definition: This is the loss of extra cellular fluid volume that exceeds the intake of fluid. The loss of water
and electrolyte is in equal proportion. It can be called in various terms- vascular, cellular or intracellular
dehydration. But the preferred term is hypovolemia.
 Dehydration refers to loss of WATER alone, with increased solutes concentration and sodium concentration
Pathophysiology of Fluid Volume Deficit

 Etiologic conditions include:
a. Vomiting
b. Diarrhea
c. Prolonged GI suctioning
d. Increased sweating
e. Inability to gain access to fluids
f. Inadequate fluid intake
g. Massive third spacing

 Risk factors are the following:
a. Diabetes Insipidus
b. Adrenal insufficiency
c. Osmotic diuresis
d. Hemorrhage
e. Coma
f. Third-spacing conditions like ascites, pancreatitis and burns


 Factors
 inadequate fluids in the body
 decreased blood volume
 decreased cellular hydration
 cellular shrinkage
 weight loss, decreased turgor, oliguria, hypotension, weak pulse, etc.

The Nursing Process in Fluid Volume Deficit

Physical examination
 Weight loss, tented skin turgor, dry mucus membrane
 Hypotension
 Tachycardia
 Cool skin, acute weight loss
 Flat neck veins
 Decreased CVP
Subjective cues
 Thirst
 Nausea, anorexia
 Muscle weakness and cramps
 Change in mental state

Laboratory findings
1. Elevated BUN due to depletion of fluids or decreased renal perfusion
2. Hemoconcentration
3. Possible Electrolyte imbalances: Hypokalemia, Hyperkalemia, Hyponatremia, hypernatremia
4. Urine specific gravity is increased (concentrated urine) above 1.020

• Fluid Volume deficit

• To restore body fluids

• Provide intravenous fluid as ordered
• Provide fluid challenge test as ordered

1. Assess the ongoing status of the patient by doing an accurate input and output monitoring

2. Monitor daily weights. Approximate weight loss 1 kilogram = 1liter!

3. Monitor Vital signs, skin and tongue turgor, urinary concentration, mental function and peripheral

4. Prevent Fluid Volume Deficit from occurring by identifying risk patients and implement fluid
replacement therapy as needed promptly

5. Correct fluid Volume Deficit by offering fluids orally if tolerated, anti-emetics if with vomiting, and
foods with adequate electrolytes
6. Maintain skin integrity
7. Provide frequent oral care
8. Teach patient to change position slowly to avoid sudden postural hypotension

 Refers to the isotonic expansion of the ECF caused by the abnormal retention of water and sodium
 There is excessive retention of water and electrolytes in equal proportion. Serum sodium concentration
remains NORMAL

Pathophysiology of Fluid Volume Excess

 Etiologic conditions and Risks factors
 Congestive heart failure
 Renal failure
 Excessive fluid intake
 Impaired ability to excrete fluid as in renal disease
 Cirrhosis of the liver
 Consumption of excessive table salts
 Administration of excessive IVF
 Abnormal fluid retention

 Excessive fluid
 expansion of blood volume
 edema, increased neck vein distention, tachycardia, hypertension.
The Nursing Process in Fluid Volume Excess


Physical Examination
1. Increased weight gain
2. Increased urine output
3. Moist crackles in the lungs
4. Increased CVP
5. Distended neck veins
6. Wheezing
7. Dependent edema
Subjective cue/s
1. Shortness of breath
2. Change in mental state

Laboratory findings
1. BUN and Creatinine levels are LOW because of dilution
2. Urine sodium and osmolality decreased (urine becomes diluted)
3. CXR may show pulmonary congestion

o Fluid Volume excess
• Administer diuretics as prescribed
• Assist in hemodialysis
• Provide dietary restriction of sodium and water

1. Continually assess the patient’s condition by measuring intake and output, daily weight monitoring,
edema assessment and breath sounds
2. Prevent Fluid Volume Excess by adhering to diet prescription of low salt- foods.
3. Detect and Control Fluid Volume Excess by closely monitoring IVF therapy, administering
medications, providing rest periods, placing in semi-fowler’s position for lung expansion and
providing frequent skin care for the edema
4. Teach patient about edema, ascites, and fluid therapy. Advise elevation of the extremities, restriction of
fluids, necessity of paracentesis, dialysis and diuretic therapy.
5. Instruct patient to avoid over-the-counter medications without first checking with the health care
provider because they may contain sodium.