Hypernatremia (high level of sodium in the blood)
How to treat hypernatremia? How to lower sodium in the blood? How can dehydration cause hypernatremia?
Hypernatremia involves dehydration, which can have several causes, including, among others, insufficient fluid intake (water, tea, herbal teas, coffee, ...), diarrhea, kidney failure and taking diuretics (a substance that causes an increase in urinary secretion).
- The main symptoms are thirst and, if hypernatremia worsens, confusion or twitching and convulsions may occur.
- Blood tests are done to measure sodium levels.
- Usually, fluids are given intravenously to slowly lower serum sodium (the concentration of sodium in the blood).
Sodium is one of the electrolytes (minerals that carry an electrical charge when dissolved in liquid such as blood and body fluids such as blood ) in the body.
In hypernatremia, the body contains too little water compared to the amount of sodium. Conversely, serum sodium becomes abnormally high when water loss exceeds sodium loss.
In general, hypernatremia results from dehydration. For example, people can lose body fluids and become dehydrated for a variety of reasons:
Insufficient water consumption,
- taking diuretics (medicines that increase the frequency with which a person feels the need to urinate),
Symptoms of Hypernatremia
Insufficient water intake is usually the main cause of cases of hypernatremia. It usually causes thirst. The most serious symptoms of hypernatremia come from brain dysfunction. Severe hypernatremia can induce confusion, cramps, convulsions, coma, and even cause death. Hypernatremia is more common in the elderly.
Diagnosis of hypernatremia
Diagnosis is based on blood tests that indicate high sodium levels.
Doctors may do other tests to identify the cause of hypernatremia, including measurements of urine volume and concentration. A specific test called "water deprivation test" (depriving a patient of all water intake for 6 to 18 hours) is effective in identifying certain causes. The doctor carefully monitors the person during the hours that this test lasts, because it can prove to be dangerous, especially in the elderly.
Treatment of hypernatremia
Fluid supplementation: administration of intravenous fluids.
Hypernatremia is treated by giving fluids. Except in minor cases, water is given intravenously (water and a small amount of sodium in a carefully calculated concentration). This process slowly reduces the concentration of sodium in the blood, because correcting it too quickly can cause irreversible brain damage.
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