Hypernatremia – Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Hypernatremia is a condition in which sodium concentration in the blood becomes abnormally low due to some underlying reason. It represents a deficit of water with respect to sodium in the blood. However with proper treatment symptoms of hypernatremia can be relieved completely.

Sodium is one of the vital particles of the human body that regulates our health if it remains in its balanced level which is between 135 to 145 mEq/L. However, the problem occurs if due to any reason it crosses its balance level in the body which shows its effect by hampering overall health.

Sodium helps to regulate the water level existing inside or around the blood cells. It is an electrolyte which is one of the vital parts of your body’s lymph fluid and cells.

Hypernatremia may develop due to a very small reason like the increase of water level in the body to any chronic underlying health condition. Depending upon the real cause of developing this health issue and its severity its treatment procedure can be very short to a very lengthy one.

Symptoms of Hypernatremia

  • Excessive Thirst: More than usual timing thirst that is called excessive or intense thirst is the primary symptom of hypernatremia which happens due to the deficit of water level relative to sodium in the body.

In such a condition the affected person will urinate more than a normal person. Also, the color of urine will be different than the usual time like less yellow this happens due to the production of a large amount of dilute urine.

  • Extreme Fatigue: Extreme level of fatigue is felt by the patient of hypernatremia which causes lethargy, weakness, lack of energy and trouble in a walk. This often followed by severe muscle ache and spasms.
  • Mood Swing: Frequent mood change or mood swing is another important symptom of this health issue. Often a patient feels irritation and restlessness.
  • Confusion and Dizziness: Sodium existing in our blood cells plays a vital role in the nerves functionality so a reduction in its adequate balance affect the central nervous system resulting in confusion, dizziness and brain fog occurs.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: The affected person gets nauseated followed by vomiting very frequently.
  • Brain Damage: Brain or neuronal damage is possible in the severe cases of hypernatremia where complication risk remains high. In such cases, brain injury and cell shrinkage happen due to extreme water loss or dehydration.

Water scarcity in the body takes an excessive amount of water from the blood cells which can lead to swelling in brain cells. This happens because of an extreme level of dehydration.

  • Cardiovascular-Related Issues: In the severe cases of hypernatremia cardiovascular-related health complications may develop such as fast and irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure.
  • Seizures and Coma: Due to a severe elevation of sodium volume in the blood cells its patient can be a victim of coma and seizures.

Causes of Hypernatremia

Hypernatremia picturesMany internal health concerns, as well as external factors too, can cause to affect the normal sodium value in our body. As a result of that many health issues starts to develop such as low blood pressure, impact on the functionality of muscles, nerves and unbalanced fluid level in the body.

Some important factors that play a vital role in the growth of hypernatremia health issue are mentioned below.

Drinking Enough Amount of Water

Drinking water is good for health but sometimes an excess consumption of water can affect the normal level of sodium (deficit). This particularly happens because it affects the ability of the kidney that excretes excess fluid intake through urine.

This is the reason when people drink too much water during endurance activities such as marathon they often get a victim of hypernatremia as they lose excess sodium through sweat causing sodium concentration in blood.

Hormonal Changes

Many types of Hormonal changes affect the sodium level in the body such as low thyroid hormone causes low sodium level in the body. Apart from this in the cases of Addison’s disease, the adrenal gland becomes unable to produce enough hormones that regulate the water, sodium and potassium level in the body.

Side Effects of Some Medications

Consumption of some medications affects the kidney work and normal hormone level of the body which hampers the sodium concentration in a normal level i.e. between 135 to 145 mEq/L.

Medication for depression, anti-pain pills, and some water pills primarily affect the body’s sodium level as its side effects.

Vomiting, Diarrhea, and Dehydration

When your body loses excess fluid of body due to any health issue that led your body dehydrated such as in the case of vomiting, diarrhea and any severe case of dehydration then it causes you to lose electrolyte such as sodium and increases the ADH level.

Consumption of Amphetamine Drugs

Those who are addicted to amphetamine drugs are more likely to develop a severe or chronic form of hypernatremia as this drug affects the normal sodium level of the body.

Syndrome of Inappropriate Anti-diuretic Hormone

In the case of Syndrome of Inappropriate Anti-diuretic Hormone or SIADH, the anti-diuretic hormone is produced by the body in a very high range resulting in a high concentration of water happens with respect to urine excretion.

Heart, Kidney, and Liver Diseases

Certain diseases that affect the functionality of the kidney and liver, as well as congestive heart failure, affects the normal urination of the body. In such cases, more fluid accumulates in your body that easily dilutes the sodium level, resulting in it gets below to its normal level.


Following factors or conditions can lead your hypernatremia more risky and complicated.

Certain Diseases

Some diseases affect a lot to the normal balance of sodium in blood and people with such health issues develops a more severe form of hypernatremia. Diseases like heart failure, kidney related issues, liver problem, and SIADH causes to develop a complicated form of hypernatremia which requires long-term treatment.

Some Medications

Some medications cause to develop very fatal form hypernatremia. Such medications include anti-depressants, thiazide diuretics, painkillers, Ecstasy (a recreational drug), etc. affects the sodium level in the blood to a great extent.

Old Age

Aged people are more likely to develop the severe form of hypernatremia as because they generally take medications related to old age issues which affect the sodium balance in their body.

Participation in Intense Activities

People who often participate in intense activities that need endurance generally drink excess water which makes a way to develop a severe form of hypernatremia.


symptoms of hypernatremiaThe treatment procedure of hypernatremia depends on its underlying reason which causes it to grow and develop. A doctor will clarify after diagnosis the real issue of this health concern in the patient and accordingly, the treatment process will starts.

Excess water loss is diagnosed as the primary reason of hypernatremia in most of the cases, where doctor suggests to increase the water intake in order to bring back sodium level in an appropriate balance so that the condition can be controlled.

However, in the severe cases of hypernatremia self-care and just increasing fluid intake doesn’t work effectively. In this case, a doctor’s intervention is needed to cure the underlying issue which is causing this health concern

Under an immediate situation where hospitalization is required, doctors start aggressive treatment to control the situation. Here close monitoring is done on an interval of a few hours to check current fluid and sodium level in the body.

The basic goal remains in its treatment to restore water level in the body to enable smooth functioning of all the body parts such as muscles, nerves, etc. that get affected due to the deficit in the normal level of sodium.

The aim behind its treatment process is to prevent excessive fluid and water loss from the body which generally occurs during the intense activities in which sweating from body happens more than usual time and relatively water intake remains very low which triggers to dilute the sodium in cells.

A patient who gets a victim of hypernatremia due to excess fluid loss such as in the condition of vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, etc. are given IV drip that intravenously supplies fluid in the blood to balance the concentration of sodium in blood cells.

Hypernatremia caused by the changes in the hormonal level is treated by controlling those hormones that are being responsible for sodium dilution. In these cases, medications and treatment methods are altered for those diseases which are responsible for the hormonal level change.

Any injury that causes fluid loss and electrolyte changes are treated promptly so that loss of fluid can be restored at the earliest possible time. In mild cases of hypernatremia, a patient can treat himself by increasing regular fluid intake.

Preventive Measures

In most of the cases, hypernatremia remains in the mild form and doesn’t develop any symptoms so the condition is controlled by leveling the sodium balance at a correct level.

Our body has two natural mechanisms that balance our water and fluid level on its own until we get injured and affected from a health hazard that interferes in its functionality. This is the reason even though a healthy person increases his water intake it automatically gets balanced through the urination process.

This helps to maintain the normal level of sodium in the body. However, a problem develops when this water and fluid balance of body get hampered by excessive water, due to hormonal changes, loss of normal blood circulation, etc. which needed immediate medical attention.

As an old saying goes prevention is always better than cure so before your develop such health issue whether in the mild form or in a severe condition it is better you apply some preventive measures in your day to day life so that you don’t have to face such a health hazard in future.

Drink Water in Moderate Amount

Our body is blessed by a smart mechanism that controls the overall functionality of all the body parts. Whenever we feel thirsty our brain gives a signal to us and then we drink water to quench our thirst. However, some people drink excessive water even though there is no necessity.

Drinking water is absolutely good for health but makes sure that it is in a moderate amount. Your urine color and your thirst is the primary indicator of the real necessity of water in your body. So if you see changes in the urine color (pale yellow) and feeling thirsty that means you have consumed excess fluid. So keep your water level in balance.

Take Care of your Water Intake during Intense Activities

As hypernatremia health issue is primarily related to the excessive water level in the body so one has to maintain precaution to avoid it. During an intense form of workout and activities, our body loses excess fluid and accordingly we feel thirsty too.

So drink water whenever you feel its necessity which will maintain the proper balance of water and fluid in your body. This will avoid the condition of excess water or fluid concentration in the body.

Treat the Real Pain Area

Health issues that are mostly connected to develop hypernatremia health concern by affecting the normal balance of sodium in the body should be prevented at their initial stage.

Adrenal insufficiency or in the cases of diabetes patients are more likely to develop hypernatremia if precaution is not made on the very initial stage.

Keep Awareness

There are several medications for many health issues that directly affect the body’s sodium level such as diuretic medication as its side effects. So keep awareness of the symptoms or signs of hypernatremia so that without further delay you can start its treatment.

Also, you can ask your doctor regarding the side effect of any new medication added in your treatment so that you can save yourself from the further health hazard.

Use Sports Beverages during Endurance Activities

Sports beverages contain electrolytes that maintain the energy level of the body for a longer time and it is much more beneficial than plain water.

So whenever you indulge in any endurance sports or activates like the marathon, triathlon, etc. try to replace water with these sports beverages after consulting with the doctor to avoid the scenarios of low blood sodium which often possible due to excess sweating from the body.

Awareness and prevention is the key to live a long and healthy life. So it is vital for everyone that they stay aware of the symptoms of hypernatremia to avoid such health hazard and to stay fit all the time.

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