Have you ever heard the term “hyponatremia” and wondered what it means? Do you know what your sodium levels should be?
Hyponatremia is a condition in which the amount of sodium in your blood is too low. But why does it happen, and what are its symptoms? This condition can become dangerous very quickly, so it’s important to be able to spot warning signs quickly.
Read this article to learn everything you need to know about hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia literally means “low” (hypo) “blood sodium” (natremia). Hyponatremia is defined as having low concentrations of the electrolyte sodium in your blood. The symbol used to represent sodium is Na+, which is why you may see your sodium results reported using this symbol.
Sodium is extremely important to regulate different processes in the human body. Levels of sodium that are too low or too high can both lead to serious consequences, and your system is constantly regulating sodium and fluid levels to prevent this.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, your body uses sodium to:
Hyponatremia is more common among babies and infants, older adults, people who take certain medications or who suffer from chronic diseases, and people who engage in intense physical activities.
Under normal circumstances, your serum sodium levels should always be stable and within a specific range. According to the National Kidney Foundation, good blood sodium levels should be between 135-145 milliequivalents/liter (mEq/L).
Hyponatremia happens when your blood sodium levels fall below 135mEq/L. You can also have hypernatremia, in which sodium levels are higher than 145mEq/L.
There are two main ways in which you can develop hyponatremia: it can happen as a result of having too much water in your body, which dilutes the sodium; or it can happen if you’re experiencing significant sodium losses.
Theoretically, it’s also possible to develop hyponatremia if your sodium intake is too low, but this is extremely rare in real life and practically never happens. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most cases of hyponatremia are caused by having too much fluid in your system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common causes of hyponatremia include:
Chronic hyponatremia happens when your sodium levels drop progressively over a period of 48 hours or more. This type of hyponatremia usually causes milder symptoms and complications, but it should still be treated as quickly as possible.
According to the MSD Manual, the signs and symptoms of hyponatremia can include:
The effects of low sodium levels in the body can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, hyponatremia can even be fatal. The risks associated with hyponatremia will largely depend on its severity.
According to Medscape, some of the complications of hyponatremia can include:
Fortunately, hyponatremia is relatively rare among healthy individuals. There are certain steps that you can take to prevent hyponatremia, including:
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Salt and Sodium - hsph.harvard.edu
What is hyponatremia? - kidney.org
Hyponatremia - my.clevelandclinic.org
Hyponatremia - mayoclinic.org
Hyponatremia - msdmanuals.com
What are the possible complications of hyponatremia? - medscape.com