Sodium is one of the important electrolytes in the body and it plays a vital role in different bodily functions. Hyponatremia refers to the condition when the blood plasma level of sodium ions (Na+) falls below 135mEq/liter. The normal blood plasma sodium concentration must be 136–148 mEq/liter. It is vital to maintain the normal range of Na+ concentration in blood plasma for normal functioning of nerves, muscles and kidneys. Causes of hyponatremia include low sodium intake in diet, deficiency of aldosterone hormone and excessive drinking of water.
Health conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, liver disorders and hypothyroidism also result in loss of sodium ions from the body. Age-related malfunctioning of the excretory system, reduced fluid level, use of diuretics and certain medications can also pose the risk of developing hyponatremia in elderly.
Elderly individuals with hyponatremia experience muscle weakness, dizziness, lower blood pressure and are at risk of experiencing heart failure. In severe cases, hyponatremia can lead to confusions and even, coma.
Signs And Symptoms
- Increased thirst level
- Fatigue and restlessness
- Muscle spasm and twitch
- Unbalanced walking pattern and frequent falls
Diagnosis And Treatment
Hyponatremia is diagnosed by the doctor by collecting history and doing a physical examination. To confirm low blood sodium doctors may be recommended blood and urine test.
Treatment of hyponatremia in elderly people is a challenging task due to their multiple disease history. Acute hyponatremia is treated by injecting intravenous hyper-saline solution to restore the normal range of blood plasma sodium levels. Medications are also prescribed to manage symptoms of hyponatremia like headaches, nausea and vomiting.