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Sodium Levels Drop

Understanding Sodium Levels: Causes of Low Sodium, Symptoms, & Treatments

In the complicated orchestra of our bodies, electrolytes play a very crucial role in maintaining harmony and balance. Among these, sodium ranges stand as a sentinel, guarding our well-being. But what happens when the sodium ranges drop? – Hyponatremia, an often underestimated condition, starts emerging.

Today we will explore the depths of low sodium in blood that causes hyponatremia, along with discovering the causes of low sodium levels, understanding its symptoms, and shedding light on the latest available treatments for low sodium in blood.

What is Hyponatremia (Low Sodium in Blood)?

Hyponatremia is a medical condition characterized by excessive low sodium in blood. Sodium is a crucial electrolyte that is responsible for maintaining the balance of fluids in and around your cells, as well as regulating nerve and muscle function. 

When blood sodium ranges drop below the normal sodium levels (usually around 135-145 milliequivalents per liter), it can lead to several health issues.

Understanding Sodium Levels

It is essential to have an understanding of the sodium levels that are responsible for playing a vital role in maintaining a healthy balance between noraml sodium ranges. 

The normal sodium levels should be a steady 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L), which ensures that your body functions at it’s best.

Normalcy Defined: 135-145 mEq/L


To maintain the optimal functioning of the nervous system, muscles, and cellular levels – the body requires a constant balance of sodium levels between 135 to 145 mEq/L. However, if the sodium levels drop down to 126 mEq/L; this dip from the standard sodium ranges directs towards hyponatremia, which then requires urgent medical attention to identify and treat the underlying problems.

Caution Flags: When 126 Becomes a Concern

Our diagnosis signals caution, giving a red flag when the sodium levels deviate, dropping down to 126 mEq/L, and becomes a cause for concern. Read on as we help you navigate these danger zones, helping you discover the low sodium symptoms that should signal a closer scrutiny.

Danger Unveiled: Below 120 mEq/L

If the sodium levels drop below 120 mEq/L, this is when it can get seriously hazardous for your health; so an immediate action would be required at this point. Since critically low sodium levels can lead to serious hyponatremia, and the risks that are tied to such a condition include seizures, coma, and even death – enough to emphasize the urgency of seeking professional care.

Low Sodium Symptoms

Recognizing low sodium symptoms is the first step towards its timely diagnosis and the consequent treatment. These low sodium symptoms can vary in intensity, and their manifestation often depends on the extent of low sodium in blood.

Here is a list of the key low sodium symptoms, helping you better identify when to seek medical attention:

1. Headaches: The onset of hyponatremia is often marked by frequent and persistent headaches. These headaches may range from mild discomfort to intense pain, and they typically result from the swelling of brain cells due to increased water retention.

2. Nausea and Vomiting: Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in individuals with hyponatremia. Nausea and vomiting can occur, further contributing to fluid imbalance and dehydration.

3. Confusion: Hyponatremia, caused by low sodium in blood, can affect cognitive function, leading to confusion and difficulty in concentrating. In some cases, it may even result in personality changes or altered behavior.

4. Muscle Weakness: Sodium is essential for proper nerve and muscle function. Low sodium levels can lead to muscle weakness, spasms, and cramps. You may notice muscle twitching or a general sense of weakness.

5. Fatigue: Profound tiredness and lethargy are common complaints among those with hyponatremia. This fatigue can be debilitating, making it challenging to perform daily activities.

6. Seizures: In severe cases of hyponatremia, individuals may experience seizures. These seizures are a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain due to the imbalanced electrolyte levels. In extreme cases, hyponatremia can progress to a coma.

7. Swelling: Swelling, particularly in the extremities, can occur as the body retains excess water in an attempt to dilute the concentration of low sodium in blood. This swelling is known as edema and is most noticeable in the ankles, feet, and hands.

Causes of Low Sodium(Hyponatremia)

To understand hyponatremia (low sodium levels), it’s essential to explore the diverse array of factors that can lead to this potentially serious electrolyte imbalance.

Here’s a list of the most common causes of low sodium levels, leading to hyponatremia:

1. Excessive Fluid Intake: Perhaps one of the most common cause of low sodium in blood is excessive fluid intake, often associated with scenarios like excessive water consumption during endurance sports or water-drinking contests. When you consume more fluids than your kidneys can excrete, it dilutes the concentration of low sodium in blood.

2. Medications: Certain medications can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate sodium levels. Diuretics, commonly used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, can increase sodium excretion, leading to hyponatremia. Some antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may also contribute to this imbalance.

3. Medical Conditions: Underlying medical conditions can also disrupt the body’s sodium balance. Kidney diseases, for instance, can impair the kidneys’ ability to excrete excess water, leading to water retention and then hyponatremia. Heart failure, liver cirrhosis, and thyroid disorders can also further influence low sodium levels.

4. Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone (SIADH): SIADH is a condition characterized by the excessive release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which regulates water retention in the kidneys. In SIADH, ADH production occurs even when the body doesn’t need to conserve water, leading to water retention and dilution of sodium in the bloodstream.

5. Dehydration Followed by Overhydration: In some cases, severe dehydration followed by rapid rehydration can also lead to hyponatremia. For example, a person who becomes severely dehydrated, such as through excessive sweating or vomiting, may drink large amounts of water to rehydrate rapidly. This sudden influx of water can overwhelm the kidneys’ ability to excrete it, leading to hyponatremia.

6. Hormonal Imbalances: Hormones play a crucial role in regulating blood sodium ranges. Conditions that disrupt hormonal balance, such as adrenal insufficiency or low cortisol levels, can affect sodium regulation and contribute to hyponatremia.

Treatmenting Low Sodium in Blood

When treating low sodium in blood, the approach largely depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying causes of low sodium levels. Timely intervention is crucial to prevent complications and restore normal sodium levels.

Treatment options for low sodium in blood include:

  • Fluid Restriction: Reducing fluid intake is often recommended for mild cases.
  • Medications: Diuretics or medications to raise blood sodium levels may be prescribed.
  • Addressing Underlying Conditions: Treating the root cause, such as adjusting medications or managing an underlying medical condition.
  • Intravenous (IV) Saline: In severe cases, IV saline may be necessary to rapidly correct the low sodium in blood.

NOTE: It’s important to emphasize that treatments for low sodium symptoms should be individualized to address the specific circumstances of the patients and the underlying causes of low sodium. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment are not recommended, as improper correction of low sodium in blood can lead to serious complications.

When to See a Doctor?

If you experience low sodium symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. The early diagnosis and appropriate hyponatremia treatment can prevent complications and improve health outcomes. If the occurring low sodium symptoms are severe or are worsening rapidly, visit the nearest emergency room at your earliest.

How To Prevent Low Sodium in Blood

Preventing low sodium levels involve maintaining a healthy balance of fluid intake, especially during physically demanding activities.

Here are some tips:

  • Stay Hydrated, But Don’t Overdo It:
    Drink water to quench your thirst, and be mindful of excessive fluid intake.
  • Monitor Medications:
    If you’re on medications that can affect sodium levels, discuss potential risks with your healthcare provider.
  • Stay Informed:
    Educate yourself about the low sodium symptoms and the associated risk factors for early diagnosis.

Conclusion

Drop in your sodium ranges should not be taken lightly. Understanding the causes of low sodium in blood, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking timely treatment are essential for maintaining your overall health and well-being.

At Manhattan Medical Arts, we are committed to providing you with the highest level of care. If you are concerned about low sodium in blood, feel free to get in touch with our healthcare experts for free consultations.

Crequently Asked Questions of Sodium Levels

What are normal sodium levels?

The normal sodium levels are typically around 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L).

Is sodium level 126 bad?

A sodium level of 126 is lower than the normal sodium ranges and may indicate hyponatremia. It's considered abnormally low and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

What is a dangerous sodium level?

A dangerously low sodium level is often below 120 mEq/L. Severe low sodium symptoms and complications can occur at this point, requiring immediate medical attention.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 09/07/2023

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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