Unveiling the Dangers of Hyponatremia: How Excessive Fluid Consumption Can Be Deadly in Heatwaves

2023-07-25 06:08:58

With this scorching heat, a large number of visits to the emergency room for hyponatremia was noted by Public Health France, in its report published on July 18. This risk, unknown to the general public, can sometimes prove fatal.

A dangerous heat wave. In its report published on July 18, Public Health France noted an increase in visits to the emergency room for hyperthermia, dehydration and hyponatremia. If the first two risks are well known to the public, the third is a little less so. Linked to high heat, it is nevertheless potentially fatal.

In reality, hyponatremia is the decrease in the concentration of salt in the blood caused by excessive fluid consumption. “It can sometimes be the consequence of an excessive intake of water compared to sodium (salt) or an excess of loss of salt compared to the elimination in water”, can we read on the site of the Ministry of Health.

The sodium-sensitive brain

Specifically, the brain is sensitive to changes in the level of sodium in the blood. Thus, as soon as this concentration of salt, diluted in the blood, reaches the brain, the person is considered “at risk” and must be taken care of to increase their sodium level.

Among those at risk are the elderly. “They will not be able to compensate for too much water intake, especially since from a certain age sweating is altered or even absent”, notes the Ministry of Health.

In addition to this, patients with chronic diseases are also exposed (malnutrition, kidney failure, heart failure, diabetes, cancers, etc.) or even patients taking certain medications for high blood pressure or for heart or kidney problems.

Regarding the symptoms, hyponatremia is manifested by nausea, asthenia (fatigue) or vomiting. Some suggestive clinical signs may also appear as edema (swelling of soft tissues) which requires measurement of natremia, the level of sodium in the blood.

Hyponatremia can lead to coma

As it is a brain dysfunction, hyponatremia is also characterized by so-called “neuropsychiatric” symptoms, either lethargy or confusion. For the most severe cases, hyponatremia can lead to seizures or coma.

To protect yourself, it is advisable to absolutely accompany the intake of drinks with a varied diet, dividing meals if necessary, to maintain a sufficient salt intake for the body and to avoid going outside at the hottest hours.

Also, the Ministry of Health suggests not to exceed an intake of 1.5 liters of water per day in addition to foods already rich in water and to maintain a balanced and sufficient diet.

Another important point, you should also know that perspiration evacuates sodium from the body and, therefore, contributes to lowering the concentration of salt in the blood. Therefore, it is necessary to hydrate gently by following the feeling of thirst.

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