Also called water intoxication, hyponatremia is a condition when the blood sodium level drops down drastically or drops to a lower than normal level. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps regulate the water around the cells. Hyponatremia is a condition wherein the sodium in the body gets diluted due to excessive water intake or some medical condition. When this particular condition sets in, the water level in the body rises and the cells begin to swell. The level of water accumulated in the body is higher than that can be excreted. This swelling causes various health problems that may range from mild to severe.
Normal level of sodium in the body is between 135 and 145 milliequivalents per liter of sodium. When sodium level falls below 135mEq/L, hyponatremia occurs. Blood tests and urine tests help diagnose the condition. Treatment includes restricted water intake, drugs, medications, etc.
Hypovolemic hyponatremia: Too little water and sodium in the body, this condition occurs due to excessive sweating while exercising.
Euvolemic hyponatremia: Water level is too high, this condition occurs due to certain medications or chronic health conditions.
Hypervolemic hyponatremia: Body has too much water, occurs as a result of kidney failure, liver failure or heart failure.
Common causes include:
Common symptoms reported include nausea, headache, confusion, muscle cramps, seizures and loss of energy.
The human body is composed of up to 60 % water. Adequate fluid and electrolyte levels are essential for healthy functioning of all organs and body systems. Electrolytes are found in the blood, urine, tissues and body fluids. Sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate and magnesium play an important role conducting electric charge within the body. These minerals must be maintained in the appropriate ratio for proper functioning of the muscles, nerves, brain and heart. If there is any imbalance in their ratio, which usually occurs due to change in water levels in the body, electrolyte imbalance will occur. The kidneys work as major regulators of the electrolyte balance. Kidney malfunction results in excessive electrolyte retention or excretion resulting in an imbalance.
Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance vary with the electrolyte. Typical symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include fatigue, dizziness, excessive sweating, cold extremities and trembling. Swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, and hands might also be due to a fluid and electrolyte imbalance. There might be nausea, reduced urine output, dark urine, dry skin, aching joints and dry mouth. In cases of severe electrolyte imbalance, there might be convulsions and seizures.
Urine test and blood tests are done to evaluate the electrolyte imbalance. Often kidney ultrasound or EKG might be ordered. Based on the electrolyte that is out of balance, treatment includes dietary changes, fluid intake restrictions and medications to correct the imbalance. Often medication like corticosteroids, laxatives, cough medicines, diuretics and oral contraceptives can cause changes in the electrolyte balance.
Hyponatremia: Imbalance in sodium concentration in the plasma.
Hypokalemiaa: Deficiency of potassium in the bloodstream.
Hypercalcemia: Elevated calcium level in the blood.
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Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: January 27, 2023