Sodium is an essential mineral that your body needs to ensure proper fluid and electrolyte or pH balance. It helps your body to retain water and it also works to nourish your cells. It plays a major role in muscle contraction and the normal beating of your heart.
The effects of sodium deficiency or hyponatremia are a rare occurrence as this mineral is very abundant in many places of the world. It is also a regular part of our daily diet because it is a major component of the table salt that we ingest every day.
In fact, many people even exceed the required daily intake of sodium which can lead to serious health risks including hypertension and heart diseases.
Despite the abundance of sodium, it is still possible to be deficient in this mineral because people can be restricted from taking it in normal quantities due to specific medical conditions.
Sodium deficiency can cause low sodium levels in the blood. This in turn leads to abnormal mental functions, confusion, decreased consciousness and hallucination.
Here are some of the adverse effects of sodium deficiency:
1. It adversely affects the brain and its functions.
Hyponatremia is a condition triggered by a lack of sodium levels in the body. It is characterized by disorientation, confusion and swelling of brain tissues.
This condition usually takes place when the body has excreted too much sodium through excessive sweating or when too much water is ingested, flushing sodium out of the body.
Swelling of the brain tissues can lead to increased brain pressure against the skull. Its early signs include severe headaches which should be addressed as early as possible as it can lead to stroke.
2. It can cause nausea and muscle cramps.
Aside from its effect on the brain tissues, sodium deficiency can also cause swelling and inflammation of other body tissues such as the muscles and the digestive tract.
This condition is manifested by nausea, muscle cramps and twitching. Athletes who suffer from nausea or leg cramps during a workout or competition are usually advised to take a sports drink that contains sodium to alleviate the symptoms.
3. It can cause low blood pressure.
Sodium deficiency can lead to low blood volume which in turn causes your blood pressure to drop.
Low blood pressure is a serious health condition because it can cause damage to the major organs of your body including your liver and kidneys.
Low blood pressure is manifested by extreme fatigue and tiredness. If you suffer from these symptoms even if you are not engaged in intense physical activities, you should see a doctor for a thorough physical examination.
4. Sodium deficiency triggers seizures
Sodium deficiency, or hyponatremia, is a medical condition in which the level of sodium in your blood drops below normal.
This can be caused by not consuming enough sodium, or it can be a result of medications such as diuretics that cause your body to excrete excess sodium.
Chronic hyponatremia can lead to seizures because sodium is an essential electrolyte that helps regulate the electrical activity within the brain and body.
Seizures caused by sodium deficiency are usually more common in children than adults, but if untreated, they can be life-threatening for both age groups.
Treatment for hyponatremia includes increasing the amount of sodium in your diet or taking oral supplements; however, you should never take additional sodium without consulting a healthcare professional first to ensure that you are not overdoing it.
5. It can lead to coma
When the blood sodium levels drop too low, it is called acute hyponatremia and can be life-threatening.
People at risk of hyponatremia are typically those who are sweating profusely for extended periods of time and not replacing lost electrolytes or those taking certain medications.
When the body does not take in enough sodium or loses too much sodium, the sodium level falls to abnormally low levels.
This can cause symptoms such as confusion, convulsions, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting.
If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to coma due to swelling of the brain caused by fluid accumulation that causes pressure on the brainstem.
It is important to recognize warning signs of hyponatremia and seek medical attention right away if you suspect your sodium levels may be low.
Symptoms of Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia is a condition caused by low levels of sodium in the blood. Sodium is an important electrolyte, so when its levels become too low, it can cause serious health problems.
The most common cause of hyponatremia is drinking too much water, which causes the body to lose sodium as it attempts to dilute the excess water.
Hyponatremia may also be caused by certain medications or conditions such as heart failure, liver disease and kidney failure.
Symptoms of hyponatremia include:
- muscle cramps
In severe cases, coma or even death can occur due to dangerously low blood sodium levels.
If you experience any of these symptoms or think you might be at risk for hyponatremia, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible in order to prevent further complications from developing.
Treatment for Hyponatremia
The treatment for hyponatremia is to replenish the sodium in the body. This is done by drinking fluids that contain electrolytes, such as sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions.
However, keep in mind that eating too much sodium can be unhealthy, as it can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems. To keep your sodium intake in check, it is important to know which foods are high in this mineral.
Treatment also relies on controlling the amount of water and other fluids in the body. It is important to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration, but not too much water so that it doesn’t cause a further decrease in blood sodium levels.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, a doctor might recommend medications such as diuretics or vasopressin receptor antagonists to help with fluid balance and restore sodium levels in the body.
In some cases, intravenous saline may be needed to rapidly replenish sodium levels and help prevent low blood sodium.
The goal of treatment is to maintain an appropriate balance between fluid intake and output, so it is important to follow your doctor’s advice regarding how much fluid you should consume each day.
These are the different effects of a deficiency of sodium in the body. Remember that sodium is an abundant mineral, so before consuming foods packed with this, make sure to consult your doctor.
We hope that this blog helped you learn more about the importance of proper regulation of sodium in the body. If find this content informative, check out our other food blog posts for more.