A sodium level in the blood that is too low is dangerous and can cause seizures and coma. Very high sodium levels can lead to seizures and death.
The body continually regulates its handling of sodium. When a person eats too much or too little sodium, the intestines and kidneys respond to adjust concentrations to normal. During the course of a day, the intestines absorb dietary sodium while the kidneys excrete a nearly equal amount of sodium into the urine.
The concentration of sodium in the blood depends on the total amount of sodium and water in arteries, veins, and capillaries (the circulatory system). The body regulates sodium and water in different ways, but uses both to help correct blood pressure when it is too high or too low.
If the body has too little sodium (called hyponatremia), the body can either increase sodium levels or decrease water in the body. Too high a concentration of sodium (hypernatremia), can be corrected either by decreasing sodium or by increasing body water.
There are many diseases that can cause abnormal salt levels, including diseases of the kidney, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus. This is especially a concern in elderly patients, who have a harder time regulating the concentrations of various nutrients in the bloodstream.
Low salt levels can be caused by eating too little salt or excreting too much sodium or water, and by diseases that impair the body's ability to regulate sodium and water. Keeping to a low-salt diet for many months or sweating too much during a race on a hot day, can make it hard to keep sodium levels high enough. While these conditions alone aren't likely to cause loss salt levels, it can occur under special circumstances. For example, patients taking diuretic drugs who eat a low-sodium diet may have hyponatremia.... [continues]
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