Hyponatremia in elderly subjects is mainly caused by drugs (more frequently thiazides and antidepressants), the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIAD) or endocrinopathies; however, hyponatremia is multifactorial in a significant proportion of patients.
What Causes Low Sodium in Elderly People? Medications such as diuretics, some types of antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications. Decreased liver, heart, or kidney function. Illnesses that can cause dehydration such as pneumonia.
Low blood sodium is common in older adults, especially those who are hospitalized or living in long-term care facilities. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia can include altered personality, lethargy and confusion. Severe hyponatremia can cause seizures, coma and even death.
Hyponatremia can result from multiple diseases that often are affecting the lungs, liver or brain, heart problems like congestive heart failure, or medications. Most people recover fully with their doctor’s help.
A low sodium level has many causes, including consumption of too many fluids, kidney failure, heart failure, cirrhosis, and use of diuretics.
Generally, low sodium is asymptomatic (does not produce symptoms), when it is mild or related to your diet. It can take weeks or months for you to experience the effects of low salt in your diet—and these effects can be corrected by just one day of normal salt intake.
Hyponatremia occurs when your blood sodium level goes below 135 mEq/L. When the sodium level in your blood is too low, extra water goes into your cells and makes them swell. This swelling can be dangerous especially in the brain, since the brain cannot expand past the skull.
Treatment for low blood sodium
Severe hyponatremia occurs when levels drop below 125 mEq/L. Health issues arising from extremely low sodium levels may be fatal. Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte disorder that doctors encounter. Research suggests that approximately 1.7 percent of people in the United States have the condition.
In patients with severe symptomatic hyponatremia, the rate of sodium correction should be 6 to 12 mEq per L in the first 24 hours and 18 mEq per L or less in 48 hours. A bolus of 100 to 150 mL of hypertonic 3% saline can be given to correct severe hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia signs and symptoms may include:
In elderly patients with a diet poor in protein and sodium, hyponatremia may be worsened by their low solute intake. The kidney’s need to excrete solutes aids in water excretion. An increase in dietary protein and salt can help improve water excretion.
Top Sources of Sodium1