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Hyponatremia is a result of low sodium levels in the bloodstream. It occurs due to an imbalance between water and sodium. The condition may exist due to when the sodium level decreases or increases in your body. The sodium is necessary to control the amount of water in and around cells.   Hyponatremia may be a side effect of certain medications such as diuretics. This medicine is used to treat blood pressure. Low sodium levels often cause medical conditions, hormonal diseases, kidney or liver diseases, heart problems, and adrenal gland disorders.   A blood test can measure the concentration of sodium in the bloodstream. Doctors usually track electrolyte levels in patients. Those suffering from kidney, liver or heart failure get started on diuretic medication.

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Chronic hyponatremia

This is a more common form that occurs when the sodium levels of the patient decrease over a long period. It may not become apparent until the sodium levels have fallen. Symptoms are often not as severe as in acute hyponatremia and may be non-specific.   Mild chronic hyponatremia may only need changes in lifestyle, diet or medication. If lack of sodium is being caused by medication such as a diuretic, then, your doctor will adjust your dosage. Check your blood sodium levels on a regular basis if you take diuretics. In chronic hyponatremia, maintaining sodium balance too may cause damage to parts of the brain.

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Acute hyponatremia

This occurs when sodium levels decrease acutely in a period of fewer than 48 hours. The low levels cause cerebral edema and brain death. This form of hyponatremia is less common, but symptoms may be significant. Infusing an intravenous (IV) sodium solution is necessary to correct the imbalance. Additional treatment will depend on the underlying causes. People who do intense physical exercise may drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. On drinking too much and not replenishing sodium, they may develop acute hyponatremia. Drinking electrolyte replacement fluids may help to keep their sodium levels balanced.

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Headaches

The major problem with hyponatremia is cerebral edema. When sodium levels in the blood are very low, water goes into the brain cells and makes them swell. This causes headaches and other neurological symptoms such as confusion or memory loss.   A headache on its own is easy to treat with over-the-counter pain medication. If other symptoms are present, the underlying cause could be hyponatremic. In many patients, eliminating the source of excess water is enough to treat the problem. If a medical condition, such as cancer, is the cause, its treatment will balance the sodium level.

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Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting may occur due to low sodium levels. Vomiting can stimulate the release of an anti-diuretic hormone, and this worsens the condition. It promotes retention of water and dilutes the sodium level further.   Many over-the-counter medications exist for treatment of nausea. Ginger is also commonly used to treat nausea and sucking on a ginger candy may help. It is very important to replace fluid. You need to drink more but make sure that your consumption should increase over a period. It is possible to drink too much, too quickly. But, you should also consider drinking a rehydration beverage that contains electrolytes.

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Lethargy

Lethargy has many causes. If it comes with headaches and mental changes, hyponatremia might be the cause. Athletes may experience extreme lethargy if they drink too much water. They suffer when they fail to replace it with sodium. Fatigue is common when exercising, but extreme lethargy is not. If lethargy is a sign of acute hyponatremia, you can relieve it by restoring the sodium balance. An intravenous infusion of sodium solution may be necessary. If there is no underlying health problem, the kidneys will maintain the balance on their own. If there are underlying health problems, addressing them is important.

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Mental changes (confusion)

Brain fog, dizziness, and confusion may occur. These neurological symptoms occur as the pressure in the brain increases. You are unable to think as clearly or quickly as you normally do. You may feel some disorientation and may have difficulty paying attention or remembering.   If the cause of your mental state is hyponatremia, treatment will be necessary. One medium of treatment is to offer sodium-retaining medicine to the patient. This medicine can relieve your kidneys. It makes the extra urine leave your body while the sodium remains inside.

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Muscle weakness or cramping

Sodium is an ion. It has an electrical charge. Nerves use electric charges to send messages to the brain. The brain directs muscles to expand or contract. Interruption of this process can cause muscle weakness or cramping.   Stretching the calf muscles can help to reduce the pain from cramping. Massage the area with warm oil. Place a heat pack on the area. Make sure to eat enough foods rich in calcium and magnesium. Lack of these minerals is the major cause of muscle cramps. If these treatments do not relieve muscle cramps, you are suffering from hyponatremia.

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Irritability and restlessness

Irritability, bad moods, and restlessness are common with swelling on the brain. If you have other neurological symptoms, the problem could be that your sodium levels are too low. It is worth checking whether this is the case. Many people only realize they have hyponatremia when undergoing tests for other reasons.   Monitoring urine color may be helpful when attempting to monitor your fluid intake. If your urine is concentrated and dark in color, you may not be drinking enough. Urine that is pale yellow or clear shows you are getting enough fluid.

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Seizures

Patients having seizures need emergency treatment. The first steps will be to make sure the patient can breathe and has an adequate pulse and blood pressure.   If a patient experiences seizures, a doctor usually prescribes medication to control them. Seizures due to hyponatremia will need treatment with highly concentrated intravenous sodium. The goal is to reverse the low sodium levels at a rate of 10 to 12-degree mEq/l in the first 24 hours.

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Coma

Low sodium that occurs in less than 48 hours is more dangerous. It is so because the brain cells don’t have much time to adjust. The presence of the skull means the brain does not have room for expansion. Cerebral edema occurs, and the swelling can lead to brain damage. In this situation, the pressure increases inside the skull.   You need to receive emergency help in the form of concentrated intravenous sodium. This helps in avoiding decreased consciousness, herniation, and death.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.