Medical Definition of Hypernatremia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Hypernatremia: Elevated blood sodium.

Sodium is the major positive ion (cation) in fluid outside of cells. The chemical notation for sodium is Na+ (from natrium, a synonym for sodium). When combined with chloride (Cl), the resulting substance is table salt (NaCl).

Excess sodium (such as from fast food hamburger and fries) is excreted in the urine. Too much (or too little) sodium can cause cells to malfunction, and extremes can be fatal.

The normal blood sodium level is 135 - 145 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L), or in international units, 135 - 145 millimoles/liter (mmol/L).

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Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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