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Hyponatremia Explained

Hyponatremia Treatment

Like most conditions, the easiest way to treat hyponatremia is to avoid it, if possible. This means having a general understanding of your own personal hydration needs. The traditional recommendation of having eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day is not only hopelessly overused, it's also absent of a single piece of research to back it up [source: Burfoot].

Controlling sodium intake is another important preventive measure. Since hyponatremia is essentially a reduction in sodium levels, you may choose to increase your intake by supplementing the sodium you get from food. The average American consumes too much sodium as it is, so consult a physician before you begin adding it to your diet [source: Shore News]. Experts recommend daily consumption of around 2,400 milligrams (about half a teaspoon) of sodium, but if your fluid balance is off kilter, more may be needed.

If you know you're prone to hyponatremia, cutting back on fluids is the most direct way to correct the imbalance.

For severe cases, more direct and aggressive therapy is required. And because the only symptoms are sometimes neurological, time is of the essence. Administering sodium intravenously can work quickly to raise levels and reverse the swelling.

There are also certain medications that can be used to address the underlying cause. A doctor will make the decision to administer drugs based on certain factors, including the severity of hyponatremia and what treatment will be the most direct course of action. Drug therapy is usually reserved for chronic cases that don't require immediate correction.

Finally, hyponatremia can be caused by certain hormone imbalances, and in these cases, supplements may be taken to replace any deficiencies that may be occurring. Again, this treatment is typically for people with chronic hyponatremia and not those in immediate danger.

The most important thing to remember when addressing hyponatremia is that treating the underlying cause -- sodium deficiency -- is usually the preferred method. Sodium imbalances can be managed through diet and may be effective in preventing the triggering imbalances.