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What happens if you don't get enough sodium?

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Quick Answer

A deficiency of sodium, which is medically known as hyponatremia, can manifest in a range of physical symptoms, including convulsions, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, cramps, nausea, vomiting and restlessness. In severe instances, decreased consciousness, hallucinations, brain herniation, coma and even death can occur from hyponatremia, according to MedlinePlus.

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Full Answer

There are a number of causes of hyponatremia, including excess diarrhea, sweating, vomiting and burns that cover an extensive area of the body. Certain medications that increase urinary output such as diuretics can also be a culprit. Kidney disease, heart failure and cirrhosis of the liver can cause hyponatremia. There is also a hormonal deficiency known as syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion that can cause sodium deficiency, explains MedlinePlus.

Diagnosis of hyponatremia involves determining the underlying cause of the condition. This may involve only a medical history review, although blood or urine tests or even imaging studies may also be undertaken. MedicineNet states that treatment for the condition generally requires restriction of water that further dilutes the body's sodium stores. In some instances, fluids may also be administered intravenously, and medications may be used to alleviate symptoms by restoring the balance of electrolytes within the body. Since hyponatremia can be lethal, it is important for those experiencing symptoms to contact a medical professional right away to diagnose the condition and commence treatment if necessary, notes MedlinePlus.

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