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Conditions of Sodium Imbalance
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Hypernatremia (hyper= too much + natr= sodium + emia=in the blood) is usually associated with dehydration, and instead of having too much sodium, there is too little water. This water loss can occur from illnesses with vomiting or diarrhea, excessive sweating from exercise or fever, or from drinking fluid that has too high concentrations of salt.
Hyponatremia (hypo=too little) is caused by water intoxication (drinking so much water that it dilutes the sodium in the blood and overwhelms the kidney's compensation mechanism) or by a syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). SIADH can be associated with illnesses like pneumonia, brain diseases, cancer, thyroid problems, and some medications.
Symptoms of Sodium Imbalance
Too much or too little sodium can cause cells to malfunction. Lethargy, confusion, weakness, swelling, seizures, and coma are some symptoms that can occur with hyper - or hyponatremia. The treatment of these conditions is dependent on the underlying cause, but it is important for the health care practitioner to understand the reason for the abnormal sodium level and correct the sodium imbalance relatively slowly. Rapid correction can cause abnormal flow of water into or out of cells. This is especially important to prevent brain cell damage (central pontine myolysis).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2017
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