When it comes to your health, hydration is key. But hydration is more than just drinking enough water — it’s about getting precise amounts of electrolytes to help stave off dehydration and other serious conditions. One of those disorders is hyponatremia — a form of dehydration where your body doesn’t get enough sodium.
Here, we’ll show you everything you need to know about hyponatremia. You’ll learn all about hyponatremia treatment plus what the disorder is, what causes it, and how to recognize the most common symptoms. We’ll also explain how sodium connects to hydration and overall health, as hyponatremia relates to low sodium concentration. Plus, you’ll discover how drinking an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS can prevent dehydration and help you maintain normal sodium levels.
What Is Hyponatremia?Hyponatremia — also known as hyponatremic dehydration — is a medical condition that occurs when your body's sodium concentration is too low. It can occur as both a chronic and acute disorder. Acute hyponatremia, or severe symptomatic hyponatremia, occurs when normal sodium levels drop quickly. This type of hyponatremia typically produces more severe symptoms, including brain swelling.
Chronic hyponatremia usually occurs when your sodium levels gradually dip below normal over a period of 48 hours or more. Symptoms of chronic hyponatremia tend to be less severe, but they can still impact your overall health and cause psychological and neurologic symptoms.
The Importance of Sodium
Hyponatremia can be caused by different factors, including underlying medical conditions or simply drinking too much water. That’s because hydration isn’t just about drinking water. Your body needs vital electrolytes — including sodium — to stay properly hydrated.
Here’s how hydration works. Your cells contain fluid that is made of both water and a variety of electrolytes — charged minerals that support healthy functioning. These electrolytes include sodium, potassium, and magnesium. In general, electrolytes help to control muscle movements, send neurotransmitter signals, regulate water levels, and control the pH of your blood.
Hyponatremia is a type of dehydration where you don’t get enough sodium. Sodium plays a key role in hydration. When you’re dehydrated, sodium triggers a thirst mechanism in order to restore normal hydration levels and prevent the loss of electrolytes through urination. Sodium also changes the osmotic pressure, serum osmolality, tonicity, and osmolarity in your cells — that’s basically the amount of pressure it takes for water and electrolytes to move in and out of cells.
In essence, sodium makes it easier for your body to absorb fluids and essential minerals to stay hydrated. It does this through the sodium-glucose cotransport system. Glucose transports sodium from your small intestine into your bloodstream. There, sodium increases the absorption of water and electrolytes, helping to restore hydration levels fast.
If you’re hyponatremic, you don’t have enough salt relative to the amount of water and other electrolytes present in your body. In fact, hyponatremia is characterized by plasma sodium levels below 131 to 135 mEq/L.
Read on to learn more about the causes of low sodium levels, how to recognize symptoms, and why drinking an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS can help manage hyponatremic dehydration. You’ll also learn why simply increasing your water intake is a poor approach to hyponatremia treatment.
Common Causes of Hyponatremia
Normal serum sodium levels are between 135 and 145 milliequivalents per liter. When your sodium levels are higher or lower than this range, you can suffer from health problems.
Hypernatremia occurs when your total body water decreases and serum sodium concentration increases above 145 mEq/L. Hyponatremia occurs when your body’s sodium levels are too low — less than 135 mEq/L. This narrow window of adequate sodium concentration explains why it’s so easy to suffer from dehydration and other electrolyte disorders.
Here are the main causes of hyponatremia:
- Drinking excessive amounts of water
- Medical conditions, including the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH), kidney disease, liver disease, and heart failure
- Excessive sweating
- Illnesses that cause diarrhea and vomiting
- Heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion
- Impaired water excretion — caused by excessive antidiuretic hormone (ADH) production and renal disease
- Hormonal changes and disorders, including adrenal insufficiency and low thyroid hormone levels
- Hyperglycemia — particularly when taking Mannitol
- Low potassium levels or hypokalemia
- Thiazide diuretic use
There are several risk factors and lifestyle choices that can increase your risk of developing hyponatremia or compound the impact of another cause of hyponatremia. Older adults — who often take more medications and have chronic diseases — are at a higher risk of hyponatremia.
Some medications and drugs can increase the risk of low sodium levels. These include medications like loop diuretics, laxatives, and antidepressants. Taking renal water retention drugs such as Desmopressin without water restriction can also lead to hyponatremia. The use of recreational drugs such as ecstasy also heightens the chance of suffering from hyponatremia. Some athletes, especially those who drink excessive amounts of water for events like ultramarathons, are also predisposed to hyponatremia.
Symptoms of Hyponatremia
The symptoms of hyponatremia range from mild headaches to severe complications, including seizures and coma. In mild cases of hyponatremia, you may experience a reduced attention span, increased risk of falling, and an altered gait. In severe hyponatremia cases, neurological symptoms such as confusion and seizures are more prevalent.
Here are the main symptoms of hyponatremia:
- Muscle cramps
- Weakness and tiredness
- Excessive thirst (polydipsia)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Short-term memory loss
- Loss of appetite
- Cerebral edema (when there’s too much water in brain cells, they swell, causing intracranial pressure and brain herniation)
- Increased pressure on your brain and skull (known as hyponatremic encephalopathy)
When it comes to hyponatremia treatment, complications can occur. In most cases of hyponatremia, treatment plans address either water intake or sodium intake. Care must be taken in order to avoid the rapid correction of hyponatremia, which can cause morbidity and complications such as osmotic demyelination syndrome (ODS).
Formerly known as central pontine myelinolysis, ODS causes brain cell dysfunction and is most commonly caused by overcorrecting severely low sodium levels. According to clinical practice guidelines and expert panel recommendations, demyelination can be avoided by limiting correction rates to less than 0.5 mEq/L/h or 18 mEq/L every 48 hours. Read on to learn more about hyponatremia treatment.
Hyponatremia Treatment Options
The treatment of hyponatremia includes the use of intravenous fluids and certain medications. An oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS can also help you manage sodium levels which are associated with hyponatremia. Medications for hyponatremia include tolvaptan — which is a vasopressin V2 receptor antagonist used for hyponatremia caused by congestive heart failure and SIADH — as well as other vaptans.
These vasopressin receptor antagonists are used to treat hypervolemic hyponatremia — increased sodium levels typically occurring in cases of renal and kidney disease — and euvolemic hyponatremia — characterized by excess free water and in cases where people take too many hypotonic fluids.
In cases of euvolemic hyponatremia, a fluid restriction may be necessary, while diuresis or isotonic saline may be used to treat hypovolemia and hypervolemic hyponatremia. Another hyponatremia treatment involves the use of IV fluids in cases of intensive care unit patients and hospitalized patients. IVs consist of a saline solution made of sodium chloride and water, and the formula can be adjusted to suit different types of hyponatremia.
Oral rehydration solutions can be used for mild to moderate cases of dehydration characterized by depleted sodium levels. Oral rehydration solutions like DripDrop ORS contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to help restore normal fluid volume. DripDrop ORS contains a precise ratio of sodium and other electrolytes to help promote proper hydration. Oral rehydration solutions are recommended by the WHO and UNICEF in the treatment of dehydration and other related electrolyte disorders.
When you're in a state of dehydration, no amount of water is enough. Your body needs the perfect balance of sodium and glucose to help absorption. With the precisely balanced ratio, you can replenish vital electrolytes and fluids to relieve dehydration quickly. Plus, DripDrop ORS supplies vitamins like zinc, potassium, and magnesium, which are essential to support your overall health.
Address Dehydration With DripDrop ORS
DripDrop ORS is a proven alternative for treating mild to moderate dehydration. It's powerful enough to use in extreme circumstances but safe enough for everyday use.
DripDrop ORS was developed by a doctor on a mission to defeat life-threatening dehydration. The patented formula provides medically relevant electrolyte levels including sodium. It improves on the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) standards because of its delicious taste, giving you a medically viable ORS that also tastes great.
By comparison, sports drinks contain about one-third the electrolytes of DripDrop ORS, and twice as much sugar. Plus, sports drinks don’t offer a precise amount of sodium to help address dehydration and low sodium levels that can cause hyponatremia.For cases of mild to moderate dehydration, DripDrop ORS is a fast, effective, and great tasting remedy. With convenient packaging that allows you to have DripDrop ORS when you need it, where you need it. Get started with a trial or our most popular multi-flavor pouch for dehydration relief fast.