Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
An imbalance occurs when there is too littleor too much sodium, also known as salt, in the bloodstream. The condition is calledhyponatremia when there is too little sodium. It is called hypernatremiawhen there is too much sodium in the bloodstream.
What is going on in the body?
The kidneys absorb most of the sodium in the body.Sodium helps the kidneys to regulate water levels in the body.Normally, the sodium-water balance in the body is regulated by thehormone aldosterone. This hormone causes the kidneys to hold ontowater. When this system is out of balance, the body either gets ridof or absorbs too much sodium.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Too little sodium in the blood may be caused by:
Too much sodium in the blood may be caused by:
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Common signs and symptoms of salt imbalance include:
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the condition diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose salt imbalance by taking a completemedical history and ordering blood and urine tests. Other tests may be donedepending on the person’s symptoms.
The doctor may also want to know:
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the condition?
A person can take these actions to help prevent salt imbalance:
A person who has the fluand uncontrollable vomitingneeds to be monitored carefully. He or she may need to be admittedto a hospital to get fluids to preventdehydrationand salt imbalance.
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
The long-term effects of salt imbalance depend on theunderlying cause. If the imbalance is caught early and treated, theremay be few long-term effects. Severe salt imbalance that is not treatedcan lead to extreme weakness,confusion,coma,or death.
What are the risks to others?
A salt imbalance itself is not catching, although the underlyingcause may be. For example, if a person has low sodium due tovomiting and diarrhea caused by the flu,the flu may be catching. If the sodium imbalance is due to akidney disorder, this is not catching.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the condition?
Treatment for sodium imbalance will depend on theunderlying cause.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects depend on the treatments used, but may includeallergic reactionsto the medicine and stomach upset.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Hyponatremia that is the result of vomiting and diarrheacaused by the flu may be treated and need no further treatment. Onthe other hand, a person who has diabeteswill need lifelong treatment once the condition is under control. A personwith kidney diseasemay need follow-up treatment and close monitoring of blood levels ofsodium and many other electrolytes.
How is the condition monitored?
Carefully monitoring of blood levels can help keep abalance between too little and too much sodium in the blood. If thesalt imbalance is due to a short-term condition, such as vomiting, nofurther monitoring may be necessary. If a person is on diuretics or hasother long-term conditions, periodic bloodtests are needed to check the blood levels of various electrolytes. Anynew or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.
Article type: xmedgeneral