DESCRIPTIONSodium imbalance is above- or below-normal levels of sodium in the blood. All body cells are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis and treatment.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Hospitalization (frequently, particularly for the very young who require regulation of dehydration by receiving intravenous fluids).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSConfusion.
Restlessness and anxiety.
Muscle cramps (usually in the legs).
Changes in pulse rate and blood pressure.
Tissue swelling (edema).
Stupor or coma.
Sodium imbalance in your child may be part of a disease with other symptoms that predominate, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating.
CAUSESProlonged loss of body fluids from vomiting or diarrhea.
Congestive heart failure.
Prolonged, excessive drinking of water. (This is usually a psychiatric condition.)
Some cancers of the adrenal glands.
Infections with high fever.
Hypernatremia (above-normal sodium):
Inability to drink water, as with stroke or gastrointestinal diseases.
Use of cortisone drugs.
Excessive intake of salty food or liquid, as in near-drowning in salt water.
Hyponatremia (below-normal sodium):
RISK FACTORSDiabetes mellitus.
Congestive heart failure.
Use of diuretics.
Kidney diseases. Healthy kidneys can usually control sodium levels.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEBecause sodium disturbance is the result of underlying disease, obtain early medical treatment for your child to prevent a sodium imbalance.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood and urine studies of sodium and other electrolytes.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSShock and death.
Usually can be corrected with intravenous fluids and treatment of the child's underlying disorder.
HOME CAREIf your child has a disorder or takes drugs that affect sodium balance, learn as much as possible about the drugs, your child's condition, and ways to prevent a sodium imbalance.
MEDICATIONIntravenous sodium if your child's sodium levels are low.
Diuretics to decrease high sodium levels.
Medications to correct underlying disorders.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Your child can resume normal activities after recovery.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet for low sodium levels. Most children with high sodium levels benefit from a low-salt diet (See Appendix 29). Low-salt diets contain enough sodium to prevent hyponatremia. However, sodium levels are not influenced by diet alone.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of a sodium imbalance.
Your child is having problems with a disorder that affects sodium levels.