Hyponatremia is a potentially life-threatening electrolyte condition that requires immediate medical attention. Lifestyle factors and underlying medical conditions will determine the course of hyponatremia treatment options administered to the patient. For example, reducing fluid consumption along with increasing sodium can be used to treat mild to moderate forms of hyponatremia. Severe and acute forms of this illness, on the other hand, usually require aggressive treatment options that may include hormone therapy, medications and intravenous (IV) fluids.
This electrolyte condition results when an imbalance between sodium and water in the body occurs. Normal levels of sodium in the blood are between 135 to 145 milli-equivalents per liter (mEq/L or 135-145 mmol/L); treatment becomes necessary when sodium concentration falls below 135 mEq/L (mmol/L). In mild hyponatremia, levels fall between 130 to 135 mEq/L (mmol/L), while levels of 125 to 129 mEq/L (mmol/L) indicate moderate hyponatremia. A common hyponatremia treatment method for mild to moderate cases involves water restriction from 16.9 fluid ounces to 33.8 fluid ounces (500 to 1000 mL) per day to raise sodium levels.
When sodium levels fall below 125 mEq/L (mmol/L), it is considered to be severe and life threatening. Water restriction, along with diuretics and saline supplementation through IV administration, is often used to treat this severe hyponatremia. It is important to note that rapid and aggressive sodium correction can lead to osmotic demyelination, more commonly known as brain shrinkage. To avoid osmotic demyelination, the hyponatremia treatment rate should be limited to 12 mEq/L (mmol/L) in 24 hours and less than 18 mEq/L (mmol/L) in 48 hours.
In some cases, hormone therapy with corticosteroids is used to treat severe forms of hyponatremia caused by adrenal insufficiency or syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). Once hormonal treatment is administered in patients with adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal glands once again begin producing hormones that help maintain normal electrolyte balance. Similarly, hormonal treatment for SIADH reduces the excessive amount of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that causes hyponatremia.
Other serious health conditions that cause hyponatremia include kidney problems, hepatic cirrhosis, and congestive heart failure. In all three conditions excess fluid is retained by the body, causing sodium content in the blood to be diluted. Hyponatremia treatment due to the aforementioned issues involves the careful elimination of excess fluid with diuretics and proper lifestyle management.
Athletes and health-conscious individuals may inadvertently develop acute and chronic forms of hyponatremia due to lifestyle factors. When participating in physical activities athletes might find themselves either consuming large amounts of water or not consuming enough. Both dehydration and over-consumption of water can lead to an acute episode of hyponatremia. In an effort to avoid high-sodium intake, some individuals may not consume enough sodium. Coupled with low sodium intake and diuretic beverages, this might lead to chronic hyponatremia.