Hyponatremia Causes, Symptoms and Natural Treatments

A variety of misconceptions about hyponatremia exist. For example, some people may think it’s just a fancy way to say low sodium levels, but this isn’t the case. This article will arm you with knowledge on why your symptoms are happening and what natural remedies can help alleviate them.

Hyponatremia is a condition where the level of sodium in the blood becomes too low. Causes can be attributed to dehydration, over-exercising, or a lack of salt intake. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, and confusion.

Low sodium levels in the blood are referred to as hyponatremia. It’s the polar opposite of hypernatremia, a condition in which salt levels are abnormally high. When people are in the hospital, both of these conditions are common. This is particularly true if they are getting intravenous fluids, have a pre-existing ailment such as renal or heart problems, or are in critical care.

According to surveys, hyponatremia occurs in 15-30% of all patients throughout hospital stays. Hyponatremia and associated electrolyte abnormalities may occur after physical activity or in hot weather when dehydration symptoms are more prevalent. When hyponatremia is mild or even moderate, hyponatremia is often asymptomatic. This indicates the patient isn’t aware of any visible symptoms. Hyponatremia symptoms include headaches, nausea, and in extreme instances, seizures or a coma if the condition is severe.

The most common treatment for hyponatremia is to regulate fluid levels in the body. To put it another way, salt intake and excretion must be balanced. The following are some methods for preventing hyponatremia or reversing it if it has occurred:

  • consuming the appropriate quantity of water in relation to the amount of sodium you’re losing
  • consuming a healthy diet
  • maintaining the health of your adrenal glands
  • attempting to maintain hormonal balance

What Is Hyponatremia and How Does It Affect You?

Hyponatremia is a form of electrolyte imbalance in which the blood sodium levels are deficient. Sodium (salt) has a negative reputation because too much of it raises blood pressure and causes fluid retention and edema. It is, nonetheless, an important electrolyte. All electrolytes play a crucial role in the human body. This is due to the fact that when dissolved in body fluids, such as blood, they carry an electric charge. Sodium plays a variety of functions, including:

  • Aiding in regulating the quantity of water in and around your cells.
  • Controlling the amount of blood.
  • Blood pressure control.
  • Allowing your muscles and nerves to function as they should.

What is the difference between low sodium and regular sodium?

  • Sodium levels should be between 135 and 145 mEq/L.
  • A blood sodium level of less than 135 mEq/L is considered hyponatremia.
  • The range for mild hyponatremia is 130-134 mmol/L.
  • 125-129 mmol/L is considered moderate.
  • Anything less than 125 mmol/L is considered severe.

Depending on whether a patient has hyponatremia (too little salt in their blood) or hypernatremia (too much salt in their blood), the doctor will alter fluids to rectify the imbalance. You may keep track of your water consumption, food, and medicines to avoid electrolyte imbalances. Normally, your body gets salt from food and excretes the appropriate quantity via urine or perspiration. As long as you don’t have renal issues, you should be able to automatically balance salt and water levels by adopting a few healthy lifestyle modifications.

Hyponatremia’s Common Signs and Symptoms

The difficulty with having too little sodium and too much water simultaneously is that your cells swell. As a result, hyponatremia may be exceedingly dangerous — even fatal — depending on how much edema and fluid retention develops.

The following are the most prevalent hyponatremia symptoms:

  • In addition, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are all symptoms of digestive problems.
  • Headaches
  • Instability and dizziness
  • Muscle deterioration
  • Confusion and difficulty focusing
  • Low energy, lethargy, and exhaustion, even if you’ve had enough sleep
  • Mood swings and an increase in irritation
  • Muscle spasms, cramps, or discomfort
  • Brain enlargement, convulsions, and potentially coma or death may result in extreme situations if the illness is not addressed.
  • Hyponatremia may induce falls, injuries, and gait problems in the elderly owing to instability and weakness.

Causes and Risk Factors for Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia occurs when sodium levels in your body become excessively diluted, too much water is present in the blood in proportion to sodium. Cells bloated with water generate fluid retention, which causes hyponatremia symptoms and problems. This may cause major neurologic problems and fluid retention in the brain (brain edema).

Hyponatremia may be classified into different forms based on how blood volume and total fluid levels are affected. In other words, it’s divided into categories based on the cause.

  • Water levels rise, reducing sodium levels depending on blood volume in euvolemic hyponatremia.
  • When blood volume and salt levels are both low, you’re hypovolemic.
  • When blood volume and sodium levels both rise, but sodium is excessively low in relation to water, the condition is known as hypervolemia.
  • Hyponatremia that lasts more than 48 hours is referred to as “chronic hyponatremia.” Because of the possibility of difficulties, this is typically a riskier option. It’s also more difficult to cure. Acute hyponatremia, on the other hand, refers to a condition that develops quickly. Treatments such as intravenous fluids may help manage acute hyponatremia.

Hyponatremia is most often caused by the following situations and health conditions:

  • A current or underlying medical issue that affects salt levels, thirst feeling, renal function (such as kidney disease that impacts urine output), heart or liver problems. Hyponatremia is caused by a variety of illnesses, including kidney disease and heart disease.
  • Being a premenopausal woman is a unique experience. Hyponatremia seems to be more common in premenopausal women. Because of the way women’s sex hormones alter fluid and salt levels, this is the case.
  • Affects the adrenal glands due to hormonal imbalances or abnormalities. The adrenal glands generally create hormones that aid in electrolyte balance in the body (including sodium, potassium, and water). Adrenal gland insufficiency (Addison’s illness) and thyroid disorders/damage are two factors that might cause hormone production to alter.
  • A disease causes chronic, severe vomiting or diarrhea. Dehydration may result as a result of this (taking in too little electrolytes through foods and fluids).
  • Drinking an excessive amount of water. This may happen in very high weather, when fasting, or while exercising or participating in endurance sports. According to studies, people who participate in marathons, ultramarathons, triathlons, and other long-distance, high-intensity sports are more likely to develop hyponatremia.
  • People who follow a sodium-restricted diet heavy in water and hydrating foods but low in sodium (like raw food diets or fruit-only diets).
  • Getting older. Hyponatremia symptoms are more common in the elderly and older individuals than in younger persons. This is particularly true if they are on fluid-regulating drugs, have been in the hospital, or are ill.
  • Taking drugs that cause sodium and water levels to fluctuate. Thiazide diuretics, antidepressants, and pain relievers are among drugs that may cause or contribute to hyponatremia.
  • High quantities of the anti-diuretic hormone are produced (ADH). As a result, your body retains water rather than excreting it regularly via your urine.
  • Recreational drug use, such as ecstasy.

Hyponatremia’s Conventional Treatment

When a patient visits a doctor for hyponatremia symptoms or is already in the hospital when the illness arises, the healthcare practitioner will generally take various measures to search for any signs of electrolyte imbalance:

  • Sodium in the blood (amount of sodium in the blood)
  • The osmolality of plasma (osmolality tests offer a snapshot of the concentration of solutes in a particular volume of body fluid, in this example, the quantity of water and sodium in the blood/serum)
  • Sodium in urine (how much sodium the body is excreting in urine)
  • The osmolality of urine (concentration of solutes in the urine)
  • The patient’s symptoms or indicators of electrolyte imbalance, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or diarrhea, are assessed.

If your doctor diagnoses you with hyponatremia, they may opt to treat you with intravenous fluids or drugs to get your fluid levels back to normal. These may vary depending on the severity of your hyponatremia and how it affects your total blood volume. Fluids and drugs are used to boost sodium levels and reduce water retention.

Administering saline solutions to raise salt levels is common for hypovolemic hyponatremia. Water/fluid restriction will be advised for a length of time if water levels in the blood are excessively high (euvolemic hyponatremia). You may need to take diuretics in addition to limiting your water consumption and increasing your salt intake (which increases urination). To manage difficulties when the hyponatremia is severe, and brain injury is a possibility, a 3 percent sodium solution is routinely given.

Hyponatremia: 5 Natural Treatments and Prevention Tips

1. Take care of any underlying health issues.

Kidney malfunction, kidney illness, liver disease or damage, thyroid issues, adrenal exhaustion, and heart disease may all raise your risk of hyponatremia therefore treating these underlying diseases is critical. If you have any of these health issues, keep a careful eye on your symptoms, eat a nutritious diet, and talk to your doctor about strategies to keep your fluid levels in check so that you don’t have too much fluid/water in your body. In addition, anyone with these illnesses must be extremely cautious not to dilute their body’s salt levels too much via drugs, strenuous activity, diarrhea or vomiting, and so on.

Because the adrenal glands create hormones that regulate fluid levels in your body, maintaining good adrenal health is essential for avoiding electrolyte imbalance symptoms. Eating more fresh vegetables and fruits, foods rich in B vitamins (such as fish or eggs), mushrooms, coconut oil/coconut milk, and seaweed are all dietary actions you may take to help your adrenals. Reduced stress, enough relaxation and sleep, and moderate exercise (not too much or too little) may all help your adrenals function effectively.

2. Keep track of how much water you consume (Especially During Exercise)

While drinking adequate water is essential for a variety of body processes, it is also possible to drink too much (particularly in a short period of time). Drinking too much water dilutes the quantity of sodium in your blood in proportion to the amount of water you drink, resulting in the symptoms listed above. If you’re severely exercising while hyponatremia occurs, such as when running a marathon, you can lose some salt via perspiration.

When you’re active, you may believe that the best way to remain hydrated is to drink as much water as possible. However, if you’re sweating a lot and losing a lot of electrolytes, you may need a sports drink or beverage that contains salt (in addition to other electrolytes).

Drink just as much water as you are thirsty for and as much as you are losing through perspiration. A decent rule of thumb is to drink 8-10 ounces of water 15 minutes before you start working out, then another 8 ounces every 15 minutes throughout your exercise. Check the color of your urine as frequently as possible to see whether you’re drinking roughly the proper quantity of water throughout the day (even if you’re not active): you’re aiming for a light yellow tint as opposed to clear or extremely dark.

3. Think about changing your diet.

It may be beneficial to make some modifications if you eat a lot of hydrating meals and water but not enough natural sea salt or sodium. We get sodium from our food in the form of sodium chloride, or table salt, which is the most common type. However, processed foods, such as low-quality meat products, frozen meals, sauces, canned goods, fried or fast foods, and so on, now account for more than 75% of a person’s salt intake. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and sodium benzoate are some of the names for sodium in processed foods.

Rather than receiving enough sodium from these harmful goods, consider adding genuine sea salt to your home-cooked meals— this way, you can manage the quantity of salt you consume (plus, you’ll receive a lot more advantages since real sea salt contains a lot of minerals). Meat, milk, beets, and celery are examples of nutritious foods that naturally have less salt.

Most health authorities recommend that most adults who don’t have any heart or kidney problems limit their added salt intake to the same amount (2,300 milligrams per day if you’re healthy, and no more than 1,500 milligrams per day if you have an existing condition like heart disease).

4. Medications, including diuretics, should be changed.

Suppose drugs like diuretics or antidepressants are contributing to your problem. In that case, your doctor may advise you on how to properly improve sodium levels and minimize water retention by changing your dose. Although you should never modify or stop taking drugs without seeing your doctor first, natural therapies such as a good diet, essential oils, exercise, stress reduction, and some supplements may be able to help alleviate symptoms including bloating, anxiety, and depression.

5. Work on bringing your hormones into balance.

If you’re pregnant, going through menopause, or going through other hormonal changes, electrolyte abnormalities might be one of the causes of edema, exhaustion, mood swings, and other symptoms. Because of the way women’s sex hormones alter fluid and salt levels, premenopausal women seem to be at the highest risk of hyponatremia. Adrenal glands that are stressed are likewise at a higher risk.

Once you’ve ruled out conditions like adrenal gland insufficiency (Addison’s disease) and thyroid disorders/damage, work on naturally balancing your hormones through exercise, stress-reduction techniques (like yoga, deep breathing, or meditation), a nutrient-dense diet, hormone-balancing essential oils, and possibly herbal/supplement therapy.

Be Careful When Treating Hyponatremia

There’s usually no need to contact a doctor if you experience modest symptoms, such as muscle weakness or headaches, following vigorous exercise, or spending time in high temperatures/humidity. However, if you experience unexplained symptoms of electrolyte imbalance, particularly after high-intensity sports, or if you have illnesses such as low blood pressure and/or diabetes, see your doctor.

Keep an eye out for abrupt signs and symptoms of low blood sodium. This is critical during a hospital stay, surgery, participation in a marathon or long-distance race, dehydration, or sickness (like a fever). Learn about any adverse effects that may arise as a result of the meds you’re taking or a pre-existing ailment. If your symptoms linger longer than a day, take precautions and seek medical care immediately to avoid things worsening.

Final Thoughts

  • Hyponatremia is an electrolyte imbalance caused by the body having too little sodium in relation to water.
  • Hyponatremia is characterized by nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, headaches, weakness, lethargy, and disorientation. In extreme instances, complications might include brain injury from swelling, falls, seizures, and coma.
  • Hyponatremia may be treated by drinking the appropriate quantity of water in relation to the amount of salt you’re losing, controlling underlying health concerns, eating a balanced diet, caring for your adrenal glands, and regulating your hormone levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 2 types of hyponatremia?

A: There are two types of hyponatremia. Acute Hyponatremia and Chronic Hyponatremia.

What is the most common cause of hypernatremia?

A: Hypernatremia is a type of disorder that can cause serious health problems and even death. It’s usually the result of drinking an excessive amount of water over time, which leads to your body not being able to excrete as much sodium in your urine or sweat anymore. This causes too-high blood levels of sodium (hypernatraemia) when it should be low because there isn’t enough water for all the sodium you’re losing through urination, sweating, etc., leading to higher than average amounts in our blood serum.

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