JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Management of hyponatremia

Kian Peng Goh
American Family Physician 2004 May 15, 69 (10): 2387-94
15168958
Hyponatremia is an important electrolyte abnormality with the potential for significant morbidity and mortality. Common causes include medications and the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) secretion. Hyponatremia can be classified according to the volume status of the patient as hypovolemic, hypervolemic, or euvolemic. Hypervolemic hyponatremia may be caused by congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, and renal disease. Differentiating between euvolemia and hypovolemia can be clinically difficult, but a useful investigative aid is measurement of plasma osmolality. Hyponatremia with a high plasma osmolality is caused by hyperglycemia, while a normal plasma osmolality indicates pseudohyponatremia or the post-transurethral prostatic resection syndrome. The urinary sodium concentration helps in diagnosing patients with low plasma osmolality. High urinary sodium concentration in the presence of low plasma osmolality can be caused by renal disorders, endocrine deficiencies, reset osmostat syndrome, SIADH, and medications. Low urinary sodium concentration is caused by severe burns, gastrointestinal losses, and acute water overload. Management includes instituting immediate treatment in patients with acute severe hyponatremia because of the risk of cerebral edema and hyponatremic encephalopathy. In patients with chronic hyponatremia, fluid restriction is the mainstay of treatment, with demeclocycline therapy reserved for use in persistent cases. Rapid correction should be avoided to reduce the risk of central pontine myelinolysis. Loop diuretics are useful in managing edematous hyponatremic states and chronic SIADH. In all instances, identifying the cause of hyponatremia remains an integral part of the treatment plan.

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