What is hyponatremia?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018
  • Author: Kartik Shah, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Answer

Serum sodium concentration and serum osmolarity normally are maintained under precise control by homeostatic mechanisms involving stimulation of thirst, secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), and renal handling of filtered sodium. Clinically significant hyponatremia is relatively uncommon and is nonspecific in its presentation; therefore, the physician must consider the diagnosis in patients presenting with vague constitutional symptoms or with altered level of consciousness. Irreparable harm can befall the patient when abnormal serum sodium levels are corrected too quickly or too slowly. The physician must have a thorough understanding of the pathophysiology of hyponatremia to initiate safe and effective corrective therapy. The patient's fluid status must be accurately assessed upon presentation, as it guides the approach to correction. [1]


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