Learn About Low Sodium Level

What is the definition of Low Sodium Level?

Low blood sodium is a condition in which the sodium level in the blood is lower than normal. The medical name of this condition is hyponatremia.

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What are the alternative names for Low Sodium Level?

Hyponatremia; Dilutional hyponatremia; Euvolemic hyponatremia; Hypervolemic hyponatremia; Hypovolemic hyponatremia

What are the causes of Low Sodium Level?

Sodium is found mostly in the body fluids outside the cells. Sodium is an electrolyte (mineral). It is very important for maintaining blood pressure. Sodium is also needed for nerves, muscles, and other body tissues to work properly.

When the amount of sodium in fluids outside cells drops below normal, water moves into the cells to balance the levels. This causes the cells to swell with too much water. Brain cells are especially sensitive to swelling, and this causes many of the symptoms of low sodium.

With low blood sodium (hyponatremia), the imbalance of water to sodium is caused by one of three conditions:

  • Euvolemic hyponatremia -- total body water increases, but the body's sodium content stays the same
  • Hypervolemic hyponatremia -- both sodium and water content in the body increase, but the water gain is greater
  • Hypovolemic hyponatremia -- water and sodium are both lost from the body, but the sodium loss is greater

Low blood sodium can be caused by:

  • Burns that affect a large area of the body
  • Diarrhea
  • Diuretic medicines (water pills), which increase urine output and loss of sodium through the urine
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney diseases
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
What are the symptoms of Low Sodium Level?

Common symptoms include:

  • Confusion, irritability, restlessness
  • Convulsions
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting
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What are the current treatments for Low Sodium Level?

The cause of low sodium must be diagnosed and treated. If cancer is the cause of the condition, then radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery to remove the tumor may correct the sodium imbalance.

Other treatments depend on the specific type of hyponatremia.

Treatments may include:

  • Fluids through a vein (IV)
  • Medicines to relieve symptoms
  • Limiting water intake
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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Low Sodium Level?

Outcome depends on the condition that is causing the problem. Low sodium that occurs in less than 48 hours (acute hyponatremia), is more dangerous than low sodium that develops slowly over time. When sodium level falls slowly over days or weeks (chronic hyponatremia), the brain cells have time to adjust and swelling may be minimal.

What are the possible complications of Low Sodium Level?

In severe cases, low sodium can lead to:

  • Decreased consciousness, hallucinations or coma
  • Brain herniation
  • Death
When should I contact a medical professional for Low Sodium Level?

When your body's sodium level drops too much, it can be a life-threatening emergency. Call your provider right away if you have symptoms of this condition.

How do I prevent Low Sodium Level?

Treating the condition that is causing low sodium can help.

If you play sports or do other vigorous activity, drink fluids such as sports drinks that contain electrolytes to keep your body's sodium level in a healthy range.

What are the latest Low Sodium Level Clinical Trials?
Targeted Correction of Plasma Sodium Levels in Hospitalized Patients With Hyponatremia: a Randomized, Controlled, Parallel-group Trial

Summary: Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte disorder with a prevalence of up to 30% in hospitalized patients. While treatment of acute hyponatremia with severe clinical symptoms due to cerebral edema is undisputed and straightforward, hyponatremia in general is usually considered asymptomatic or not clinically relevant. Accordingly, a recent observational study showed that appropriate laboratory t...

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Quality Improvement Project - Evaluation of Current Standard of Care for Feeding Practices With Donor Human Milk Products in the NICU

Summary: Human milk is associated with substantial benefits to infants' health and development, especially in premature infants. Some mothers are unable or unwilling to provide breast milk to their infant. The use of donor human milk as an alternative to cow milk in these infants has risen dramatically in the past year. However, there have been recent reports of hyperphosphatemia and hyponatremia associate...

What are the Latest Advances for Low Sodium Level?
Efficacy and safety of desmopressin orally disintegrating tablets 25 and 50 μg in male patients with nocturia: A Japanese real-world multicenter clinical study.
Bifunctional anti-PD-L1/TGF-βRII agent SHR-1701 in advanced solid tumors: a dose-escalation, dose-expansion, and clinical-expansion phase 1 trial.
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Eslicarbazepine Acetate as Adjunctive Therapy for Primary Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures in Adults: A Prospective Observational Study.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: May 01, 2021
Published By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Dell K M. Fluid, electrolytes, and acid-base homeostasis. In: Martin RJ, Fanaroff AA, Walsh MC, eds. Fanaroff and Martin's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 92.

Pasco J. Electrolyte disturbances. In: Cameron P, Little M, Mitra B, Deasy C, eds. Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:section 12.2

Verbalis JG. Disorders of water balance. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 15.