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|Laboratory Value, Serum||Result|
hyponatremia p. 615
cirrhosis and p. 398
MDMA as cause p. 595
as paraneoplastic syndrome p. 221
thiazides p. 633
paraneoplastic syndrome p. 221
With hyponatremia, hypo- means under or low, and -natrium is latin for sodium, often written as Na plus, and -emia refers to the blood, so hyponatremia means a lower than normal concentration of sodium in the blood, generally below 135 mEq/L.
The concentration of sodium depends on both sodium and water levels in the body.
About 60% of our body weight comes from just water, and it basically sits in two places or fluid compartments—one third of it is in the extracellular fluid, meaning outside the cells, and two thirds of it is in the intracellular fluid, or inside cells.
Normally, the two compartments have the same osmolarity -- total solute concentration -- and that allows water to move freely between the two spaces.
But the exact composition of solutes differs quite a bit.
The most common cation in the extracellular compartment is sodium, whereas in the intracellular compartment it’s potassium and magnesium.
The most common anion in the extracellular compartment is chloride, whereas in the intracellular compartment it’s phosphate and negatively charged proteins.
Of all of these, sodium is the ion the moves back and forth across cell membranes, and subtle changes in sodium concentration tilts the osmolarity balance in one direction or another and that moves water.
This is why we say “wherever salt goes, water flows”.
That being said, hyponatremia, or low concentration of sodium in the extracellular fluid and therefore the blood, can be caused by either losing more sodium than water, or gaining more water than sodium.
Broadly speaking, hyponatremia can be divided into three categories based on water volume status.
Typically this is seen in conditions like congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or nephrotic syndrome where a lot of fluid leaks out of the blood vessels and into the interstitial space, causing edema especially in the ankles.
Hyponatremia refers to a blood sodium level that is below the normal range, specifically below 135 mEq/L. This can cause several symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, and fatigue. In severe cases, hyponatremia can lead to hyporeflexia, seizures, coma, and even death.
Common causes of hyponatremia include drinking too much water or other fluids without enough salt, use of certain diuretics, renal failure, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH), etc.
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