Sodium is an important electrolyte that helps maintain the balance of water in and around your cells. It is essential for proper muscle and nerve function and helps maintain stable blood pressure. A normal sodium level is between 135 and 145 mEQ/L. Hyponatremia (low sodium) is defined as a sodium level of less than 135 mEQ/L.
Symptoms of low sodium may vary from individual to individual. If one's sodium level falls gradually (chronically) over time, one may not experience symptoms until the levels become critical. If one's sodium level falls rapidly(acutely), then symptoms may be more severe and constitute a medical emergency.
Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte abnormality for which hospitalizations occur. Common symptoms of low sodium include headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, gait unsteadiness, weakness, confusion, and irritability. Severe symptoms include loss of consciousness, seizures, and coma.
There are many reasons why one's sodium might get low. These include:
1. Certain medications such as diuretics, psychotropic drugs, and pain medications
2. Kidney disease, liver disease, and heart failure
3. Volume depletion from diarrhea
4. Hormonal imbalances- SIADH (Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone) which can cause water retention; Addison's disease; thyroid disease
5. Drinking too much water such as when athletes drink too much water during endurance events
The diagnostic workup for hyponatremia includes certain blood and urine tests. Treatment varies, depending on the cause.
If you are concerned that you may have hyponatremia and would like to learn more about diagnosis and treatment options, you can call us at 817-233-6923 to schedule a consultation.