(Low Blood Sodium)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- Hyponatremia facts
- What is hyponatremia (low blood sodium)?
- What causes hyponatremia (low blood sodium)?
- What are the symptoms of hyponatremia (low blood sodium)?
- How is hyponatremia (low blood sodium) diagnosed?
- How is hyponatremia treated (low blood sodium)?
- Patient Comments: Hyponatremia - Experience
- Patient Comments: Hyponatremia (Low Blood Sodium) - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Hyponatremia (Low Blood Sodium) - Diagnosis
- Patient Comments: Hyponatremia (Low Blood Sodium) - Treatment
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- Hyponatremia refers to a low level of sodium in the blood.
- Hyponatremia may result from excess fluid in the body relative to a normal amount of sodium, or it may be due to a loss of sodium and body fluid.
- Symptoms are nonspecific and can include mental changes, headache, nausea and vomiting, tiredness, muscle spasms, and seizures.
- Severe hyponatremia can lead to coma and can be fatal.
- Treatment of hyponatremia involves intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement, medications to manage the symptoms of hyponatremia, as well as any treatments for the underlying cause.
What is hyponatremia (low blood sodium)?
Hyponatremia refers to a lower-than-normal level of sodium in the blood. Sodium is essential for many body functions including the maintenance of fluid balance, regulation of blood pressure, and normal function of the nervous system. Hyponatremia has sometimes been referred to as "water intoxication," especially when it is due to the consumption of excess water, for example during strenuous exercise, without adequate replacement of sodium.
Sodium is the major positively charged ion (cation) in the fluid outside of cells of the body. The chemical notation for sodium is Na. When combined with chloride (Cl), the resulting substance is table salt (NaCl).
The normal blood sodium level is 135 - 145 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L), or in international units, 135 - 145 millimoles/liter (mmol/L). Results may vary slightly among different laboratories.
What causes hyponatremia (low blood sodium)?
A low sodium level in the blood may result from excess water or fluid in the body, diluting the normal amount of sodium so that the concentration appears low. This type of hyponatremia can be the result of chronic conditions such as kidney failure (when excess fluid cannot be efficiently excreted) and congestive heart failure, in which excess fluid accumulates in the body. SIADH (syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone) is a disease whereby the body produces too much anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), resulting in retention of water in the body. Consuming excess water, for example during strenuous exercise, without adequate replacement of sodium, can also result in hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia can also result when sodium is lost from the body or when both sodium and fluid are lost from the body, for example, during prolonged sweating and severe vomiting or diarrhea.
Finally, a number of medications can lower blood sodium levels. Examples of these include diuretics, vasopressin, and the sulfonylurea drugs.
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