We have often heard of people diagnosed with sodium deficiency that doctors say is a serious condition and often wonder what it is and what can we do to prevent sodium deficiency. However, before we delve into the details of sodium deficiency, let us first understand what sodium is and why it is an essential element in our body.
What is sodium?
Sodium is an essential electrolyte in the blood that helps to maintain the balance of water in and around the cells. There are also other reasons why balanced sodium is required in the blood:
• Prevents dehydration
• It aids proper nerve and muscle function
• Regulates blood pressure levels
• Prevents hyponatremia and hypernatremia
What is sodium deficiency?
Sodium deficiency refers to low sodium in the blood and the condition is known as hyponatremia. It happens when there is a poor balance between sodium and water levels. A normal level of sodium is when it is between 35 and 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). However, when the number falls below 135 mEq/L, it is called sodium deficiency.
Causes of sodium deficiency
There are a number of factors that may lead to a fall in the level of sodium in the blood. In case you have a medical condition or your body loses too much water and electrolytes, the sodium levels in your blood might drop drastically.
Here are some causes for reduced levels of sodium in blood:
- Severe diarrhea or vomiting
- Antidepressant and pain-relieving medication
- Taking water pills, also known as diuretics
- Drinking too much water
- Kidney failure
- Liver disease
- Heart problems
- Diabetes insipidus
- Primary polydipsia, a condition where you feel the urge to drink too much water
- Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH), which makes your body retain water
- Addison’s disease
- Certain Cancers
What are the common signs and symptoms of sodium deficiency?
Every person having sodium deficiency disorder might not have the same symptoms. It varies from person to person. A mild hyponatremia have no such prominent symptoms, but when there is a drastic drop in the sodium levels, a number of symptoms are visible:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Low on energy
- A headache
- Weakness and drowsiness
- Inability to decipher surroundings
- Muscle cramps and spasms
When to see a doctor?
A sodium deficiency can be quite tricky and you might not be able to detect if it happens at a very slow rate. But if you see severe signs and symptoms of hyponatremia like nausea and vomiting, seizures and lost consciousness, seek medical care immediately. Your doctor will help you with the necessary medications.
How to increase sodium levels naturally?
A low sodium level in blood can lead to adverse effects on health like muscle weakness, hallucinations, and even death. It is a common matter of concern among older adults as they usually take medications that put them at such a risk factor. To naturally raise sodium levels at home, here’s what you can do:
- Limit water intake. Switch regular water with some high energy sports electrolyte drinks or coconut water.
- Prepare saline water at home with a pinch of salt and drink it to increase sodium intake.
- Have vegetable juice
- Have foods rich in sodium like cheese, salami, bacon, olives, soups or table salt along with meals.
These are some natural at-home remedies that you can follow to naturally increase your levels of sodium.