Hypernatremia is when there is too much sodium in the body. It may be serious and requires care from your doctor.
This happens when there is an imbalance in the amount of water and sodium in the body—too little water, too much sodium.
The main cause of hypernatremia is having more water leave your body than enter it. This causes
dehydration. A person can become dehydrated in different ways, such as:
Drinking too little fluidsSweating a lot--unless you have cystic fibrosis, when excess sweating can cause hyponatremia.
Having certain medical conditions (such as
or kidney disorder)
Risk factors include: Not getting enough fluids or the correct fluidsFeverVomitingDiarrheaUsing
(medicines that increase urine output)Severe burnsLosing too much fluidAdvanced ageHaving certain medical conditions (such as diabetes or kidney disorder)
Symptoms may include: Being thirstyDry mouthmuscle weakness or muscle crampsanorexiadecreased urine outputacute weight losspostural dizzinessrestlessness, irritability or agitation
Brain dysfunctionConfusionMuscle twitchingSeizureComa
If left untreated, the condition may lead to death.
Dry mouth is a symptom of hypernatremia.
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Your doctor will: Ask about your symptomsAsk about your fluid intake and your urine outputTake your medical historyDo a physical exam
Tests may include: Blood test—to check the sodium levels, other salt levels, and sugar levels in your blood. Kidney function may also be checked with a blood test.Urine test—to check for urine sodium levels and sugar levels
To regain a proper balance of fluids in your body, liquid can be given to you either by mouth or through an IV (needle in your vein). The fluid will contain a specific concentration of water, sugar, and sodium. Reintroducing fluids slowly into your body will lower the sodium to a normal level. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
To help reduce your chance of getting hypernatremia, take these steps: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of the correct fluids.Work with your doctor to manage any health conditions effectively.
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Dehydration and hypovolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 5, 2011. Accessed August 18, 2011.
Hypernatremia. The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals website. Available at:
http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec13/ch167/ch167b.html#v1149497. Updated May 2009. Accessed August 18, 2011.
Sodium. The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook for Patients and Caregivers website. Available at:
http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/sec14/ch171/ch171b.html#v1151342. Updated August 2008. Accessed August 17, 2011.
Stuart W, Smellie A, et al. Hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia: pitfalls in testing.
BMJ. 2007 March 3; 334(7591): 473-476.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Igor Puzanov, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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