General Practice 2022

Hypernatremia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Hypernatremia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Hypernatremia: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Hypernatremia is defined as an increase in the amount of sodium in the blood, above the upper limit, which is 145mEq/L. This change occurs when some disease causes excessive loss of water, or when a large amount of sodium is consumed, causing a loss of balance between the amount of s alt and water in the blood.

Treatment for this alteration must be guided by the doctor depending on its cause and the amount of s alt in each person's blood, and generally consists of increasing water consumption, which can be taken orally or, in more severe cases, with serum in the vein.

Main symptoms

In most cases, hypernatremia does not lead to the appearance of signs or symptoms. However, when the change in sodium is very serious or happens suddenly, excess s alt causes contraction of brain cells and signs and symptoms may appear, the main ones being:

  • Increased thirst;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Weakness;
  • Increased muscle reflexes;
  • Confusion;
  • Seizure;
  • Eat.

Hypernatremia is identified by a blood test, in which the dosage of sodium, also identified as Na, is above 145mEq/L. Assessment of urine sodium concentration, or urinary osmolarity, also helps to identify urine composition and identify the cause of hypernatremia.

Causes of hypernatremia

Most of the time, hypernatremia happens due to the loss of excess water by the body, causing dehydration, a situation that is more common in people who are bedridden or hospitalized for some disease, in which there is an impairment of kidney function. In addition, hypernatremia can occur as a consequence of:

  • Diarrhea, common in intestinal infections or laxative use;
  • Excessive vomiting, caused by gastroenteritis or pregnancy, for example;
  • Profuse sweating, which occurs in case of intense exercise, fever or very hot weather.
  • Diseases that make you urinate a lot, such as diabetes insipidus, caused by brain or kidney disease, or even medication use;
  • Big burns, as it alters the skin's balance in the production of sweat.

In addition, people who do not drink water throughout the day, especially the elderly or dependent people who cannot access liquids, are more likely to develop this alteration.

Another important cause for hypernatremia is excess sodium consumption throughout the day, in predisposed people, such as consuming foods rich in s alt. Discover foods rich in sodium.

How the treatment is done

Treatment can be done at home, in milder cases, with increased fluid intake, especially water.Usually, drinking a large amount of water is enough to treat the change, but in cases of people who cannot drink fluids or when there is a very serious change, the doctor will recommend replacing water through serum with less s alt., in the amount and speed necessary for each case.

This correction is also made with care not to cause a sudden change in the composition of the blood, due to the risk of cerebral edema and, in addition, care must be taken not to lower the sodium levels too much because, if too low, it's also harmful.

It is also necessary to treat and correct what is causing the blood imbalance, such as treating the cause of the intestinal infection, taking homemade saline in cases of diarrhea and vomiting, or the use of vasopressin, which is a remedy indicated for some cases of diabetes insipidus.

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