Low Sodium Side Effects

The Side Effects of Low Sodium

The side effects of low sodium can have a huge impact on the quality of one’s life. Hyponatremia, the formal term for having low sodium, is a common electrolyte deficiency that is typically seen as a symptom of other illnesses, although it can be present as a stand-alone condition. Sodium and chloride are the two elements that make up salt. Sodium is necessary in order to trigger osmosis as well as regulate the different types and levels of fluid within the body. Sodium also transports signals from and to the brain and enables muscles to contract. Chloride helps to keep a balance between acids and alkaline in the body, enables the absorption of potassium, and moves carbon dioxide from the cell in the body to the lungs where it can be expelled.

 

What causes low sodium?

Low sodium can be caused by a number of things, as it is often a symptom of an underlying disorder. Hyponatremia can crop up if there is too much water, resulting in noticeable dilution of blood salt levels. When this occurs, it is possible that the kidney may not be working as effectively as it should by failing to flush out excess fluid from the body. It could also be a sign of congestive heart failure if the body produces too much of an anti-diuretic hormone. But excess fluid and low sodium levels doesn’t have to be a serious problem. It could simply be that one has done a lot of exercise and made sure to drink plenty of water but failed to replace their electrolytes—one of which being salt. Having a pretty bad bout of diarrhea or vomiting. Drinks such as Gatorade and PowerAde are excellent electrolyte replacement drinks. Someone who is taking a new medication may start to notice the symptoms of hyponatremia, particularly if that medication is a diuretic, antidiabetic (ie: glimepiride, glipizide, and acetohexamide), or vasopressin (an anti-diuretic hormone).

 

What are the side effects of low sodium?

There are a number of side effects of low sodium. Some of them are a little less unique than others which can sometimes trick the sufferer into believing that they are suffering from another condition entirely. The most common symptoms are muscle spasms or cramps and an overall feeling of weakness. This may be perceived as tiredness and is often accompanied by headaches and difficulty keeping focus as well as dry mouth and excessive thirst. Someone suffering from low blood sodium may also feel confused, nauseas, or experience a distorted state of mind. The body may feel restless and in some cases low sodium can result in loss of consciousness, a coma, or even death.

How should a sodium deficiency be treated?

Mild cases of low blood sodium can often be treated by making changes in one’s diet to include more foods that contain natural sources of sodium. Sometimes dietary changes are not enough, however, and in these cases it may be necessary to take medication. Prescription medications can be used to treat the symptoms of low sodium as well as the cause behind the condition. These medications vary depending on what condition is causing hyponatremia, such as kidney failure, congestive heart failure, hypothyroidism, and liver cirrhosis. If one is suffering from a severe case of hyponatremia, then it may be necessary to replace their electrolyte levels using an IV. After their electrolyte levels begin to stabilize they may be given medication to regulate salt and fluid levels. They may be given specific medication or directions in order to treat the condition which caused their sodium levels to drop in the first place.