Sodium is one of the most important minerals in the body. Low sodium levels or also called hyponatremia is a condition that cannot be underestimated because it can trigger a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. Find out more from the understanding of hyponatremia, causes, symptoms, and treatment below!
Definition of Hyponatremia
What is hyponatremia? Hyponatremia is a condition in which the level of sodium in the blood is too low or is below normal levels.
Sodium or also known as sodium is one of the minerals that are very important for the body. The function of sodium in the body includes maintaining fluid balance in the body, helps maintain normal blood pressure, and supports the work of nerves and muscles.
When sodium levels in the body are low, the amount of water in the body can increase and cause swelling of cells in the body. This condition then triggers various bodily problems ranging from mild to life-threatening.
Normal sodium levels in the blood are between 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq / L). If the sodium level is below 135 mEq / L and several symptoms are found, then a person can be diagnosed with hyponatremia.
Causes of Hyponatremia
The cause of hyponatremia can come from various factors. Ranging from certain health conditions to lifestyle can affect the level of sodium in the blood.
Here are some common conditions that cause hyponatremia:
1. The use of certain drugs
Decreased levels of sodium in the blood can be caused by side effects of certain drugs.
Types of drugs such as diuretic drugs, antidepressants, and painkillers are included in drugs that can cause this condition. These drugs interfere with hormones and kidneys so that they cannot maintain normal sodium concentrations in the body.
2. Syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone (SIADH)
Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone is a condition in which the production of ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) levels is high.
The high level of ADH causes the body to not be able to expel water normally through urine. This condition actually causes the body to hold the water. This affects the electrolyte balance in the body, especially sodium.
Dehydration can also be a cause of hyponatremia.
Dehydration itself can be caused by a variety of conditions, including chronic vomiting and diarrhea. When the body experiences chronic vomiting or diarrhea, the body loses a lot of electrolytes such as sodium and ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) levels also increase.
4. Heart, kidney and liver disorders
Heart disorders such as congestive heart failure and various conditions that affect the kidneys and liver can cause hyponatremia. These conditions can cause a buildup of fluid in the body.
The accumulated fluid dilutes natural in the body and causes the concentration of sodium in the body to decrease.
5. Hormonal changes
One other cause of hyponatremia is hormonal factors.
Addison’s disease or adrenal gland insufficiency affects the work of the adrenal glands which produce hormones in charge of maintaining the balance of sodium, potassium, and water in the body. In addition, hypothyroidism or low thyroid hormone levels can also be one of the triggers of low sodium levels.
6. Consumption of too much water
The next cause of hyponatremia is consuming too much water.
In conditions where a person loses a lot of sodium through sweating, drinking too much can reduce the concentration of sodium in the blood. Drinking too much also makes the kidneys work too hard to excrete water and affects sodium levels.
Symptoms of Hyponatremia
Symptoms of hyponatremia can vary from person to person. If the decrease in sodium occurs gradually, symptoms of hyponatremia may not be very visible. While severe symptoms can indicate a decrease in sodium levels quickly.
Common symptoms for hyponatremia include:
Tired, lost energy, sleepy
Nausea and vomiting
Muscle cramps or spasms
Easy to get angry
A decrease in sodium quickly is a medical emergency because it can cause symptoms such as:
Diagnosis of Hyponatremia
The doctor will first do an interview to find out your medical history, then do a physical examination. Other tests that may be performed for the diagnosis of hyponatremia include:
Blood test, carried out to determine the level of sodium in the blood.
Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP), conducted to test the number of electrolytes and minerals in the blood. This examination can help diagnose hyponatremia even in patients who don’t show any symptoms.
Urine test carried out to measure the level of sodium in the urine. This examination can help determine the cause of hyponatremia.
Results from blood tests compared to urine tests can help find the cause of hyponatremia. If the level of sodium in the blood is low, but the level of sodium in the urine is high, it means you lose too much sodium.
Meanwhile, if the levels of sodium in the blood and urine are both low then it means you are not consuming enough sodium or maybe too much water in your body.
Management of Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia treatment must be tailored to the cause. Even if possible, treatment is done to cure the underlying problem. Here are some steps that might be done as a treatment for hyponatremia:
Reducing fluid intake, this method is done if the cause of hyponatremia is the use of diuretic drugs or the consumption of too much water. The dosage of diuretic medicine may also need to be adjusted, discuss this with your doctor.
Medication used to treat symptoms of hyponatremia such as headaches, nausea, and seizures. Generally only needed in acute hyponatremia.
Intravenous fluids, sodium IV solution is given slowly to increase sodium levels in the blood. This treatment is also generally needed for acute hyponatremia only, where treatment must be carried out by a healthcare professional.