Hyponatremia (Low Blood Sodium) - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of hyponatremia (low blood sodium)?

When sodium levels in the body are low, water tends to enter cells, causing them to swell. When this occurs in the brain, it is referred to as cerebral edema. Cerebral edema is particularly dangerous because the brain is confined in the skull without room for expansion, and the swelling can lead to brain damage as the pressure increases within the skull. Cerebral edema is only a danger in severe cases of hyponatremia.

In chronic hyponatremia, in which the blood sodium levels drop gradually over time, symptoms are typically less severe than with acute hyponatremia (a sudden drop in blood sodium level). Symptoms can be very nonspecific and can include:

  • headache,
  • confusion or altered mental state,
  • seizures, and
  • decreased consciousness which can proceed to coma and death.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • restlessness,
  • muscle spasms or cramps,
  • weakness, and tiredness.

Nausea and vomiting may accompany any of the symptoms.

Return to Hyponatremia (Low Blood Sodium)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Twilightmom, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: August 12

Stomach cramping can be a symptom of low sodium. My mom was checked for everything but hyponatremia and almost died until we decided to take her to the emergency room (ER). At this point she also was confused, very tired, and had slurred speech. Do not always think your doctor knows all because if we went by them my mom would not be with us anymore.

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Comment from: JimH, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 24

I am currently experiencing acute anxiety attacks, insomnia and was told by my general physician that I have low sodium (hyponatremia). Last visit I asked him about using salt pills, he said yes, but told me to drink water. The typical anxiety attack starts with a loss of appetite, then constant vomiting. I was vomiting 4 times an hour for days on end. The salt tablet seemed to relieve some of my symptoms. They are not the old school salt tablets, the capsule has a mix of electrolytes. Water is my drink of choice but I didn't connect the dots. It's just that I was flushing the electrolytes out of my body.

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