Severe hyponatraemia in hospital inpatients

P G Kennedy, D M Mitchell, B I Hoffbrand
British Medical Journal (1857-1980) 1978 November 4, 2 (6147): 1251-3
A prospective study of severe hyponatraemia in adult hospital inpatients showed that 44 patients had plasma sodium concentrations below 125 mmol(mEq)/1. Eighteen cases (41%) were iatrogenic, caused by diuretic treatment or postoperative administration of intravenous 5% dextrose, or both. Chest infection, a seldom-recognised and ill-understood cause of hyponatraemia, proved more common than carcinoma of the bronchus. Thirty-one patients had symptoms attributable to the hyponatraemia, but these were severe in only five cases. Analysis of blood and urine was of no value in distinguishing the different diagnostic groups in an emergency.

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