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.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
Treatment for hyponatremia may cause unpleasant side effects. Medicines may cause nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, troubled breathing, fever, or a skin rash. You may bleed or get an infection if you will have surgery. Hyponatremia may cause serious problems, such as brain swelling, heart problems, coma, or even death if not treated. Careful monitoring of sodium levels for those at risk of hyponatremia may decrease the risks of serious illness. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your condition, care, or treatment.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
A caregiver, called a dietitian, may talk to you about the food you can eat. This can help increase the amount of sodium in your body. He may also plan a diet that is best for you if you have other diseases, such as kidney or liver diseases. You may need to eat special foods to help your body work well.
Follow your caregiver's advice if you must limit the amount of liquid you drink. Caregivers may limit the amount of plain water you drink if you have extra water in your body. Plain water can lower the sodium in your blood more and make your hyponatremia worse. You may drink liquids that have water, sugar, and salt, such as juices, milk, or sports drinks.
An IV is a tube placed in your vein for giving medicine or liquids. This tube is capped or connected to tubing and liquids. Caregivers may increase the blood sodium levels by giving salt solutions in your IV.
You may be given the following medicines:
- Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.
- Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
- Diuretics: These medicines are often called water pills. Diuretics help get rid of extra fluid your body, lungs, or brain may have collected. You may urinate more often when taking diuretics.
- Sodium retaining medicines: These medicines help your kidneys release large amounts of urine. This makes the extra water leave your body while the sodium stays inside your body. If a lot of sodium is left in your body, the blood level of sodium may go back to normal.
You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your caregiver before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
You may have one or more of the following:
- Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
- Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.
- Urine sodium: This is a test that checks for the level of sodium in your urine. A sample of your urine is collected and is sent to a lab for tests.
- Heart monitor: This test is also called an EKG or ECG. Sticky pads are placed on your skin to record your heart's electrical activity. An EKG gives information about how your heart is working. Lie as still as possible during the test.
You may have any of the following:
- Dialysis: You may need to have dialysis if medicines cannot decrease the extra water in your body. This may be done especially if your kidneys are not working well.
- Surgery: Surgery may be needed if your hyponatremia is caused by some diseases, such as a tumor.
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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.