Sodium (Na) in Blood
A sodium test checks how much sodium (an electrolyte and a mineral) is in the blood. Sodium is both an electrolyte and mineral. It helps keep the water (the amount of fluid inside and outside the body's cells) and electrolyte balance of the body. Sodium is also important in how nerves and muscles work.
Most of the sodium in the body (about 85%) is found in blood and lymph fluid. Sodium levels in the body are partly controlled by a hormone called aldosterone, which is made by the adrenal glands. Aldosterone levels tell the kidneys when to hold sodium in the body instead of passing it in the urine. (See a picture of the adrenal glands or the kidneys.) Small amounts of sodium are also lost through the skin when you sweat.
Most foods have sodium naturally in them or as an ingredient in cooking. Sodium is found in table salt as sodium chloride or in baking soda as sodium bicarbonate. Many medicines and other products also have sodium in them, including laxatives, aspirin, mouthwash, and toothpaste.
Too much sodium in the diet may raise blood pressure in some people. For those who have high blood pressure, eating foods with a lot of sodium makes their chance of heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage higher. Heart failure gets worse when too much sodium is eaten. It increases the amount of water the body holds in and this causes swelling of the legs and hands. Some people have problems when they eat more than 4,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.
Low sodium levels are uncommon and most often occur as a side effect of taking medicines that make you urinate more, such as diuretics. Severe diarrhea or vomiting or heavy sweating may also cause low sodium levels.
Other electrolytes, such as potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphate, may be checked in a blood sample at the same time as a blood test for sodium.
Why It Is Done
A blood test to check sodium levels is done to:
How To Prepare
You do not need to do anything before having this test.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
The health professional drawing blood will:
How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of a problem from having blood sample taken from a vein.
A sodium test checks how much sodium (an electrolyte and a mineral) is in the blood.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Results are ready in 1 day.
Many conditions can affect sodium levels. Your doctor will talk with you about any abnormal results that may be related to your symptoms and past health.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
What To Think About
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