Aldosterone is the hormone that regulates the levels of water and electrolytes in your cells and bloodstream. Produced by the adrenal glands, it acts in unison with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland to keep your body chemistry balanced and your fluid levels stable. If your aldosterone levels are low, you will have to regulate your fluids and electrolytes yourself, particularly while exercising. Talk to your doctor about how to exercise safely with low aldosterone.
Aldosterone helps your cells retain the sodium balance they need to stay hydrated. When your adrenal glands do not produce enough aldosterone, your body naturally excretes sodium through urine and sweat. Sodium pulls water with it, so if your sodium levels fall, you become dehydrated. Your cells need to contain about 15 times as much potassium as sodium to function, so when they lose sodium, they also expel potassium to maintain the correct ratio. Without sodium, potassium and water, your cells cannot sustain your body functions.
With low aldosterone, your body cannot retain enough fluid or minerals. You easily become dehydrated, which causes headaches, fatigue, lightheadedness and, in extreme cases, coma or death. As you lose fluids, your blood pressure drops, and you can experience any of the symptoms of low electrolytes -- muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness, weakness and confusion. Low sodium also can affect your nervous system, causing muscle twitches and irregular heartbeat. If you frequently experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
Effects on Exercise
Sweating causes your body to lose fluids and electrolytes, so activities that make you sweat, such as exercise, can aggravate your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about what types of exercise are safest for you. He may suggest that you avoid running, aerobics and other high-intensity workouts and instead focus on moderate cardio, such as walking briskly or stationary cycling. You may be able to do yoga for strength training, if you inform your teacher of your condition and avoid changing positions too quickly. Ask your teacher how to avoid triggering a drop in blood pressure.
Managing Low Aldosterone
To control the symptoms of your condition, stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes in balance. According to Drs. Michael Lam, Walter Schmitt and James L. Wilson, experts on the adrenal glands, the best way to do this is to drink small amounts of water and eat powdered kelp frequently throughout the day. Kelp contains a suitable ratio of sodium to potassium. If you crave salt, you may need additional sodium, so stir up to 1 teaspoon of sea salt into your water to keep your system stable. Talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your condition.