WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Hyponatremia occurs when the amount of sodium (salt) in your blood becomes lower than normal. Sodium is an electrolyte (mineral) that is found in the body and keeps your body working properly. Sodium helps your muscles, heart, and digestive system work by moving into and out of cells. It helps control blood pressure and the amount of water or other fluids inside the body. Most sodium in the body can be found outside the cells. Hyponatremia happens when too much sodium leaves the body or when more water stays in the blood than sodium. Kidney, liver, or heart diseases, trauma, or taking certain medicines may cause hyponatremia.
- Symptoms of hyponatremia include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your heart may beat faster, slower, or stronger than normal, or your blood pressure may be low. You may also have muscle weakness, twitching, or seizures. Blood and urine sodium levels may be needed to diagnose hyponatremia. Treatment is aimed at increasing the sodium level in your body by medicines or removing the extra water in your body. With treatment, such as intravenous fluid and medicine, complications may be prevented and you may resume your normal activities.
- Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
You may need to change your eating habits to control the amount of sodium in your blood. You may need to increase your intake of sodium if you do not have other diseases. Foods that are high in sodium include milk, pretzels, or processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and ham. You may also use salt substitutes. Ask your caregiver or dietitian to help you plan a diet.
Do not drink alcohol:
Some people should not drink alcohol. These people include those with certain medical conditions or who take medicine that interacts with alcohol. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.
Drink enough healthy liquids each day and not just when you feel thirsty. You may drink liquids that have water, sugar, and salt, such as juices, milk, or sports drinks. These liquids help your body hold in fluid and help prevent dehydration (losing too much body fluid). Ask your caregiver what you should drink if you are on a low salt or low sugar diet. Follow your caregiver's advice if you need to limit the amount of liquid you drink.
Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have muscle cramps or twitching.
- You have nausea or vomiting.
- You have numbness or pricking in your arms or legs.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You are confused or cannot think clearly.
- You cannot move your arms and legs.
- You feel very weak or tired.
- You have an irregular heartbeat.
- You have trouble breathing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.