Sodium is a natural mineral element that plays an important role in a person’s health. The main purpose of sodium in the body is to control the volume of fluid and preserve the acid-base level at the optimum. Another significant role of sodium is to support normal nerve conduction, metabolic exchange in cells and to maintain normal blood pressure. A large amount of the body’s sodium is found in the bones. Approximately 40% of all sodium quantity is contained in the bone tissue. A small portion is found in the organs and cells while the 55% of all sodium remains in the blood plasma and other bodily fluids.
Normal sodium levels
Levels of sodium in blood are measured in laboratory, by taking a small sample of blood from a vein. The test is usually performed if doctor notices the signs of sodium imbalance in patient. The blood is usually drawn from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The normal concentration of sodium in the blood plasma is 136-145 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L); or, in international units, 135-145 millimoles/liter (mmol/L).
Low levels of sodium are known as hyponatreima or water intoxication. This is a condition of electrolyte disturbance. Vital physiologic functions of cells are being endangered by disturbances in normal homeostasis. This medical condition is commonly a complication caused by other conditions in which either fluids rich in sodium are lost or excess water accumulates in the body. Hyponatremia also develops from disorders in organs that control the body’s regulation of sodium or water.
Causes of low sodium levels
Levels of sodium in the blood plasma may be low due to various reasons. If there is an excess amount of water or fluid in the body, sodium may become diluted. Sometimes, inadequate excretion of fluid results from different kidney problems. If a person suffers from hypothyroidism, it is possible that lab results show low sodium levels. Liver cirrhosis and other liver health complications are also associated with low sodium levels. Certain prescribed medication, such as diuretics, vasopressin, and sulfonylurea drugs, may be the possible causes. Medical condition known as SIDAH or Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone, characterized by overproduction of antidiuretic hormone, may cause water retention in the body and sodium dilatation. Complications associated with other health problems such as excessive sweating, vomiting or diarrhea, may also reduce the levels of sodium in the blood plasma.
Symptoms of low sodium levels
The most common symptoms of sodium deficiency are persistent headaches, confusion, cramps and seizures, restlessness, muscle cramps, weakness, nausea, and vomiting.