Low Sodium Levels In The Elderly Symptoms – Hyponatremia means low sodium levels in the blood. It is the opposite of the condition called hypernatremia, in which sodium levels are very high. Both conditions often occur when patients remain in the hospital. This is especially true if they are receiving intravenous fluids, have an existing condition such as kidney or heart disease, or are in critical care.
Studies have found that hyponatremia develops in 15-30 percent of all patients during hospital stays. (1) Hyponatremia and related electrolyte imbalances may develop during exercise or in extreme heat, when dehydration symptoms are more common. If hyponatremia is mild, or sometimes, even moderate, it is usually asymptomatic. This means that no noticeable symptoms occur that the patient is aware of. However, when it is worse, symptoms of hyponatremia typically include headache, nausea and in some cases even seizures or a coma.
- 1 Low Sodium Levels In The Elderly Symptoms
- 2 Is Sodium Salt? What You Need To Know For Your Health
- 3 When And How To Treat Hyponatremia In The Ed
- 4 How To Increase Sodium Levels In Elderly Naturally
Low Sodium Levels In The Elderly Symptoms
Treatment for hyponatremia usually boils down to regulating fluid levels in the body. In other words, intake and excretion of salt versus water must be balanced. Ways you can prevent hyponatremia from developing, or reverse the condition if it has already occurred, include:
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Hyponatremia is a type of electrolyte imbalance characterized by abnormally low sodium levels in the blood. Sodium (salt) often gets a bad rap because too much of it affects blood pressure and contributes to fluid retention/swelling. However, it is actually an essential electrolyte. All electrolytes have important jobs throughout the body. This is due to how they carry an electrical charge when dissolved in body fluids, including blood. (2) Some of the roles that sodium has include:
The doctor will adjust fluids to correct the imbalance, depending on whether a patient has hyponatremia (too little salt in their blood) or hypernatremia (too much salt). To prevent electrolyte imbalance, you can control your water intake, diet and medications. Normally, your body gets sodium through your diet and loses the right amount through your urine or sweat. So, as long as you don’t have kidney problems, you should be able to balance sodium and water levels naturally by making a few healthy changes.
The problem with too little sodium, and at the same time too much water, is that your cells swell. Depending on how much swelling and fluid retention occurs, hyponatremia can be very serious – even fatal in severe cases.
Hyponatremia happens when sodium levels in your body become too diluted; too much water is present in the blood in relation to sodium. Hyponatremia symptoms and complications are caused by cells swollen with water, which causes fluid retention. This can even lead to serious neurological impairments and fluid retention in the brain (brain edema).
Is Sodium Salt? What You Need To Know For Your Health
Hyponatremia is classified into different categories/types depending on how blood volume and total fluid levels are affected. In other words, it is categorized depending on the cause.):
When a patient sees a doctor regarding symptoms of hyponatremia, or is already in the hospital when the condition develops, the health care provider will usually look for any indication of electrolyte imbalance by taking several measurements:
Once your doctor diagnoses you with hyponatremia, he or she may decide to restore normal fluid levels by giving you intravenous fluids or medications. These will depend on what type of hyponatremia you have and how it affects your total blood volume. The purpose of fluids and medications is to increase sodium levels/low water retention.
Typical treatment for hypovolemic hyponatremia is to administer saline solutions to raise sodium levels. If water levels in the blood are too high (euvolemic hyponatremia), then water/fluid restriction will be prescribed for a period of time. Sometimes, in addition to reducing water intake and increasing sodium, you may also need to take diuretics (which increase urine output). If hyponatremia is severe and brain damage is possible, approximately 3 percent sodium solution is usually administered to control complications.
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Kidney dysfunction, kidney disease, liver disease or damage, thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, and heart disease can all increase your risk of hyponatremia, so it’s important to treat these underlying conditions. If you have one of these health problems, be sure to monitor your symptoms closely, eat a healthy diet, and talk to your doctor about ways to control fluid levels so that excess fluid/water does not accumulate in your body. Anyone with these conditions should be especially careful not to dilute the amount of sodium in their body through medications, intense exercise, diarrhea or vomiting, etc.
Because your adrenal glands produce hormones that control fluid levels in your body, improving adrenal health is an important step in preventing symptoms due to electrolyte imbalance. Dietary steps you can take to care for your adrenals include eating more fresh vegetables and fruits, foods high in B vitamins (such as fish or eggs), mushrooms, coconut oil/coconut milk, and seaweed. Reducing stress, getting enough rest and sleep, and exercising in a healthy way (not too much or too little) can also keep your adrenals working properly.
While drinking enough water is generally very important for numerous bodily functions, drinking too much (especially in a short time) is also possible. Drinking too much water will dilute the amount of sodium in your blood in proportion to water, causing the symptoms described above. You may also lose some sodium through sweat when exercising intensely when hyponatremia develops, such as when completing a marathon.
If you’re active, you might think it’s best to drink as much water as possible to stay hydrated. If youare losing a lot of electrolytes through your sweat, what you may need is a sports drink or drink that provides sodium (in addition to other electrolytes).
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Try to only drink as much liquid as you are thirsty and lose through sweating. A good rule of thumb is to drink 8-10 ounces of water 15 minutes before you start working out, then during your workout drink another 8 ounces every 15 minutes. (7) Another good way to know if you are drinking the right amount of water during the day (even if you are not active) is to check the color of your urine: you are looking for a pale yellow color as often as possible, as opposed to clear or very dark.
If youare consuming very high amounts of hydrating foods plus water, but not enough natural sea salt or sodium, it may help to make some changes. The primary way we get sodium is by consuming it through our diet in the form of sodium chloride, or table salt. Today, the average person gets more than 75 percent of their sodium from processed foods, including low-quality meat products, frozen dinners, condiments, canned foods, fried or fast food, etc. Some names that sodium goes by in these processed foods are: monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and sodium benzoate.
Instead of getting enough sodium from these unhealthy foods, try adding real sea salt to your meals that you make at home – this way you can control the amount of salt you take in (plus you’ll get many more benefits because getting lots of minerals if you use real sea salt). Some healthy foods also naturally provide smaller amounts of sodium, including meat, milk, beets, and celery. (8)
One teaspoon (5 milliliters) of table salt/sea salt contains about 2,300 milligrams of sodium, and most health authorities recommend that the majority of adults who do not have heart or kidney problems should limit their added salt intake to this same amount (2,300 milligrams per day or you are healthy, or no more than 1,500 milligrams per day if you have an existing condition such as heart disease).
When And How To Treat Hyponatremia In The Ed
If medications such as diuretics or antidepressants are contributing to your condition, your doctor can recommend how to change your dosage to increase sodium levels and safely prevent water retention. Although you should never change or stop taking medications without first talking to your doctor, you may be able to help treat conditions like bloating, anxiety, and depression with natural remedies like a healthy diet, essential oils, exercise, stress reduction, and certain supplements.
If you are currently pregnant, going through menopause, or experiencing other hormonal changes, this could be one reason why you are experiencing swelling, fatigue, mood swings, etc. Premenopausal women appear to be at greatest risk of hyponatremia because of how women’s sex hormones affect fluid and sodium levels. Those with stressed adrenal glands are also at increased risk.
Once you have ruled out disorders such as adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease) and thyroid disorders/damage, work on naturally balancing your hormones through exercise, stress-reducing practices (such as yoga, deep breathing or meditation), eating a nutrient-dense diet, using hormone-balancing essential oils, and possibly taking herbs/supplements that can help.
If you have mild symptoms, such as some muscle weakness or headache, after intense exercise or spending time in high temperatures/humidity, there is probably no need to see a doctor. But, if you suddenly have unexplained symptoms that indicate an electrolyte imbalance, especially after high-intensity activities, or if you have conditions such as low blood pressure and / or diabetes, visit your doctor.
How To Increase Sodium Levels In Elderly Naturally
Watch for signs and symptoms of low blood sodium that come on suddenly. This is important after a hospital stay, surgery, participating in a marathon/long-distance race,
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