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Sodium: The Imbalance in the Body

Sodium supports the electrolyte balance of the body and plays an important role in the work of muscles, nerves, and the cardiovascular system. Hyponatremia occurs when a person has low or extremely low levels of sodium in his or her blood (Buffington & Abreo, 2016). Some of its common signs and symptoms include headaches, seizures, muscle weakness, loss of energy, nausea, and vomiting (Buffington & Abreo, 2016). This condition is more common in older adults and those with kidney disease. Sodium blood tests are conducted to diagnose this condition, and sodium levels below 135 mEq/l indicate the presence of hyponatremia (Buffington & Abreo, 2016). Nursing interventions and treatment options for hyponatremia patients are aimed at the prevention of complications and include restricting the intake of water and dietary changes to include more foods rich in sodium. In more severe cases of symptomatic hyponatremia, the recommended interventions include 3% sodium chloride injections and medications against particular symptoms, such as headache (Buffington & Abreo, 2016).

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Hypernatremia is another widespread electrolyte problem that occurs when the levels of sodium in the blood exceed the normal upper limit. Thirst and increased fluid retention are among the most common symptoms of this condition, whereas more severe signs include seizures, mental confusion, uncontrollable twitching of muscles, and even coma (Muhsin & Mount, 2016). Hypernatremia is significantly less common than hyponatremia, and the diagnosis is made with the help of sodium blood tests. In particular, this condition is diagnosed when the patient’s blood sodium levels exceed 145 mmol/L (Muhsin & Mount, 2016). Nursing interventions and treatments include dietary corrections to restrict sodium intake to a minimum, patient safety precautions in the cases of confusion, 0.45% sodium chloride infusions, and hemodialysis (Muhsin & Mount, 2016). Also, patient and family education on low-sodium foods to eat is an important intervention to prevent chronic hypernatremia.


Buffington, M. A., & Abreo, K. (2016). Hyponatremia: A review. Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, 31(4), 223-236.

Muhsin, S. A., & Mount, D. B. (2016). Diagnosis and treatment of hypernatremia. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 30(2), 189-203.

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