Hyponatremia

A low level of sodium in your blood is termed as hyponatremia. Sodium is an essential mineral of your body that regulates the fluid balance and controls the blood pressure. It also controls your nerve functions and muscle contractions.

Hyponatremia may occur when there is an imbalance of either water or sodium. Several conditions or drinking too much water dilutes your sodium. As a result of sodium dilution, water levels rise in your body leading to swelling of the cells. The swelling may cause several health problems that range from mild to fatal conditions.

There are many factors that can cause low levels of sodium in your blood and include the following:

  • Medications such as diuretics, antidepressants, and painkillers
  • Heart problems such as congestive heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver diseases
  • Syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone (SIADH)
  • Chronic vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Drinking too much of water
  • Adrenal gland disorders such as Addison’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes insipidus
  • Cushing’s syndrome

If the levels of sodium deplete gradually, then you may not experience any signs and symptoms. But if there is an abrupt decrease in the sodium levels, you may have following hyponatremia symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion and headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Irritability

Sometimes, if the sodium levels drop rapidly, it may lead potential life-threatening diseases such as rapid brain swelling, coma, and death.

Factors that increase your risk of developing hyponatremia include the following:

  • Older adults are at increased risk due to age-related changes, taking medications, and history of certain diseases.
  • Medications may also increase the risk for hyponatremia.
  • Medical conditions that prevent the excretion of water from your body may lead to hyponatremia.
  • Strenuous physical activities may increase your risk of low sodium levels.

Occasionally, your doctor suspect hyponatremia if you have neurological abnormalities. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor might order blood test and urine tests; and also clinically assess the volume status in your body. The normal range of sodium in your blood is 135 to 145 mEq/L.

The hyponatremia treatment mostly depends on the underlying cause. If you’re diagnosed with moderate hyponatremia that may be due to your diuretics, drinking high amounts of water or diet, then your doctor might recommend lowering the intake of water or adjusts the dose of diuretics.

The treatment for severe and sudden decrease of sodium levels in your body includes the following: Your doctor might prescribe intravenous sodium infusion to increase the sodium levels in your blood. To manage the symptoms of hyponatremia such as headache and nausea, your doctor might recommend certain medications.

You can prevent hyponatremia by adopting few measures that are listed below:

  • Have a hydration plan such as supplementing water with electrolyte beverages
  • Know your sweat rate so that you can determine the fluid consumption during exercise
  • Increase the consumption of dietary sodium (as per the recommendation of your doctor).
  • Record your weight before and after exercise to monitor your fluid consumption.