An Overview of Hyponatremia (Low Sodium).
Hyponatremia, also known as low sodium, occurs when there is an imbalance of sodium levels in the blood, leading to abnormally low concentrations of sodium. Sodium is an essential electrolyte responsible for maintaining proper fluid balance and facilitating nerve and muscle function in the body. When sodium levels drop below normal, it can disrupt various bodily functions.
What is hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia means that the sodium level in the blood is below normal. Your body needs sodium for fluid balance, blood pressure control, as well as the nerves and muscles. The normal blood sodium level is 135 to 145 milliequivalents/liter (mEq/L). Hyponatremia occurs when your blood sodium level goes below 135 mEq/L.
When the sodium level in your blood is too low, extra water goes into your cells and makes them swell. This swelling can be dangerous especially in the brain, since the brain cannot expand past the skull.
Also see: 9 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Kidneys
Causes of hyponatremia.
A low sodium level in your blood may be caused by too much water or fluid in the body. This "watering down" effect makes the amount of sodium seem low. Low blood sodium can also be due to losing sodium from the body or losing both sodium and fluid from the body.
Hyponatremia can be the result of illnesses and medications. Some causes that may be related to kidney disease include:
- Kidney failure - the kidneys cannot get rid of extra fluid from the body
- Congestive heart failure - excess fluid builds up in the body
- Diuretics (water pills) - makes the body get rid of more sodium in the urine
- Antidepressants and pain medication - may cause more sweating or urinating than normal
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea - the body loses a lot of fluid and sodium
- Excessive thirst (primary polydipsia) - causes too much fluid intake
Symptoms of Low Sodium Levels.
There may be no symptoms if you have mild hyponatremia. You may have symptoms when the level of sodium in your blood goes too low or drops too fast. In severe cases, you may have one or more of the following:
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Headache, confusion, or fatigue
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of energy
- Muscle weakness, twitching, or cramps
- Seizures or coma
- Restlessness or bad temper
Treatment is based on the cause and the seriousness of your hyponatremia. You may have to cut back on the amount of liquids you drink if you have extra water in your body. Your healthcare provider may also adjust your diuretic (water pill) use to raise the level of blood sodium. You may also need one or more of the following:
- Intravenous (IV) fluid. Sodium solutions may be given through your vein to increase the amount of sodium in your blood. This is usually done in the hospital.
- Sodium retaining medicines. These medicines help your kidneys get rid of large amounts of urine. This makes the extra water leave your body and keeps the sodium inside your body.
- Dialysis. If your kidneys are not working well you may need to have dialysis to decrease the extra water in your body.
It's important to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect you have hyponatremia or are experiencing any symptoms. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan based on your individual circumstances
When to visit emergency room for low sodium.
Low sodium levels, or hyponatremia, can range from mild to severe. In most cases, mild to moderate hyponatremia can be managed by consulting a primary care physician or an endocrinologist. However, there are instances when low sodium levels require immediate medical attention in an emergency room. Here are some situations in which it is advisable to visit the emergency room for low sodium:
- Severe symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing severe symptoms of hyponatremia, such as seizures, loss of consciousness, severe confusion, or difficulty breathing, it is essential to seek emergency medical care.
- Rapid onset or worsening symptoms. If low sodium symptoms appear suddenly and rapidly worsen, it may indicate a more severe underlying condition. Seeking urgent medical attention can help determine the cause and initiate appropriate treatment promptly.
- Sodium levels approaching critical levels. If blood sodium levels are dangerously low, near critical levels, or rapidly dropping, immediate medical intervention is necessary to prevent life-threatening complications.
- Underlying health conditions. If you have a pre-existing medical condition that increases the risk of developing severe hyponatremia, such as heart failure, liver disease, or kidney problems, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional promptly.
- Inadequate response to at-home treatment. If you have attempted to address mild hyponatremia through dietary changes or fluid restriction but have not seen improvement or if your symptoms persist or worsen, it is prudent to seek medical evaluation.
There are instances when low sodium levels require immediate medical attention, visit or call the Nearest Emergency Room for the medical help. We have board-certified physicians, nurses and staff to help you recover and give appropriate advice.
We have ER locations across the DFW metroplex that are open and here to help you 24/7 If you or your family have a medical emergency.
We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area with average wait times of less than 10 mins that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.