Which neurologic findings are characteristic of hyponatremia?

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

Physical findings are highly variable and dependent on the degree and the chronicity of hyponatremia. Patients with acutely developing hyponatremia are typically symptomatic at a level of approximately 120 mEq/L. Those patients with chronic hyponatremia tolerate much lower levels.

Most abnormal findings on physical examination are neurologic in origin.

  • Level of alertness ranging from alert to comatose

  • Variable degrees of cognitive impairment (eg, difficulty with short-term recall; loss of orientation to person, place, or time; frank confusion or depression)

  • Focal or generalized seizure activity

  • In those patients with acute severe hyponatremia, signs of brainstem herniation, including coma; fixed, unilateral, dilated pupil; decorticate or decerebrate posturing; sudden severe hypertension and respiratory arrest


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