How Are Low Sodium Levels in the Blood Measured?


Quick Answer

Sodium levels are measured with blood or urine testing, explains MedlinePlus. The amount of sodium in the blood should range from 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter. Depending on the laboratory where the test is performed, the normal range may be slightly higher or lower.

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Full Answer

Doctors order sodium testing for patients with serious injuries or illnesses, people who consume an abnormal amount of salt or fluid, and patients who take certain medications or receive intravenous fluids, states MedlinePlus. The result of a sodium blood test helps determine if there is an imbalance of sodium and fluid in the body. Because a number of medications can effect the results of a sodium blood test, a person scheduled for the test might have to temporarily stop taking antidepressants, diuretics, oral contraceptives, antibiotics or medications used to control high blood pressure.

The medical term for a lower-than-normal sodium level is hyponatremia, reports MedlinePlus. Dehydration or severe vomiting and diarrhea can result in hyponatremia. Any medical condition that causes the amount of water in the body to increase, such as kidney disease or heart failure, can also cause sodium levels to drop below normal. Hypernatremia, or blood sodium level that is higher than normal, can indicate a number of issues as well, including a problem with the adrenal gland where an excessive amount of the hormone aldosterone is released into the bloodstream or a rare condition known as diabetes insipidus that affects the ability of the kidneys to retain water.

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