Hyponatremia (Low Sodium) (cont.)
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Exams and Tests
The diagnosis of hyponatremia is made by a blood test that measures the concentration of sodium in the bloodstream. The normal sodium level is between 135-145 mEq/l, and levels below 110 mEq/l constitute a true emergency.
Other tests may help decide what type of hyponatremia situation exists. The amount of sodium that is being excreted in the urine may be measured, as well as the concentration of urine. These results may guide the health care practitioner to decide whether a hypo-, hyper- or euvolemic hyponatremic situation exists and help establish the diagnosis.
The diagnosis of the cause of hyponatremia also depends upon a thorough history of the circumstances that lead to the patient's illness, and a thorough physical examination. Determining the severity of hyponatremia depends on accessing whether the sodium levels have decreased acutely, usually in less than 48 hours, or whether they have gradually decreased over a longer period of time. Since acute hyponatremia can cause potentially life-threatening brain swelling and death, it is imperative to find the reason for the hyponatremia and take appropriate action to correct it.
Past medical history, history of medication use, and recent activity, along with the blood and urine test results, will help guide the health care provider to the diagnosis and direct the treatment.
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