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Thread: low sodium blues

  1. #1

    low sodium blues

    I just spent 3 days in the hospital after passing out - turns out my sodium was too low. An IV & fluid restriction - plus a do & don't eat/drink list - later I'm allowed to go home.
    No one seems to know why I'm "spilling sodium" in such large amounts, but a 1500cc fluid restriction - gatorade & sports drinks are 'free' - how'm I supposed to cope with this? I'm supposed to use high sodium stuff, so it's back to reading lables, but I'm thirsty all the time! Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Coleen, like you my blood work always shows slightly low sodium. In fact 2 years ago when I was in the hospital I contracted c. Diff. and was shitting my brains out, my sodium level dropped to 116 (normal range is 135-145). I was mentally confused and really screwed up. They had me on fluid restrictions and gave me salt pills. After a couple of weeks it returned to normal.
    Anyway, I've always liked salt on my food and liberally sprinkle it on just about everything. Forget those stupid "sport beverages" for replacing your electrolytes. I think it is a colossal ripoff and marketing gimmick. Regular old V8 Juice has far more sodium and potassium than all of them. Also, a lot of frozen foods have quite a bit of sodium too.
    Now my sodium levels are slightly higher and hover around 135-136. You probably had a full workup in the hospital to rule out hormone related causes, cirrhosis, congestive heart failure and so on.

    Check out the anemic amounts of sodium and potassium in "sport drinks" from these charts;[1].pdf

    A single 8oz. glass of V8 100% Vegetable Juice contains 480mg of sodium, 450mg of potassium, no fat, no cholesterol and only 50 calories.
    Last edited by smokey; 11-03-2012 at 04:51 PM.

  3. #3
    I had hyponatremia (low sodium) a couple years ago. My sodium level was dangerously low. It was attributed to long-term regular use of meloxicam. All the NSAIDs can cause it. It was a surprise. I always use plenty of salt because of my low blood pressure.
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  4. #4
    Did you see an endocrinologist? Have an MRI of brain?

  5. #5
    CT of the head, had an MRI a couple of weeks ago. My PCP now is an internest, which I got lucky with getting one - VA decides for you.
    My sodium's been running low, but it got too low & I blacked out. It was weird, since the day after I was discharged, I felt like my sugar was low - it wasn't, so I downed a bunch of salt on a peanut butter sandwich - YUCK! - and started feeling better about 20 minutes later. I've been salting my food since, but I don't normally use salt at all, so it'll be an adjustment. Maybe I'll go buy a salt lick!(LOL)

  6. #6
    How do you manage your bladder?

    How much fluid have you been consuming per day? Cutting back on all fluid intake is key whether is it in the form of water, gatorade or sports drinks. My endocrinologist told me to cut back on all fluids to about 1.5 liters a day from almost 3 liters I was consuming, when my blood sodium was low. I did cut back and fortunately, I didn't suffer with increased urinary tract infections. I have a suprapubic catheter.

    You need to be careful about consuming a lot of sodium without consideration for other parts of the electrolyte balance, sodium, magnesium, potassium.

    What is your normal blood pressure? If it is high, too much salt/sodium is not a good idea.

    All the best,

  7. #7
    Hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) are a fairly common metabolic side effect of SCI. Most likely to occur when your body is stressed otherwise...UTI, pneumonia, pressure ulcer, recent surgery, etc. We don't fully understand how or why this occurs, but it is much more common in those with tetraplegia than in paraplegia.

    Untreated, it can result in delirium. Limiting fluid intake to no more than 1500 ml. daily, and increasing salt intake are usually the treatments. Most often it corrects itself when the stressor is treated.

    Avoid continuing to take a high salt intake long term unless your blood tests indicate that you are continuing to waste sodium and have low blood sodium levels.


  8. #8
    Thanks, everyone, great information. I'm currently on a 1500cc fluid restriction and see my doctor today, I'll let you know what she says/does.

  9. #9
    Sometimes medicines can also cause low sodium as a side effect. Go over your medicine list carefully with your doctor (especially if you started anything new recently...) and see if anything else could be contributing. They also should have taken a good look at your lungs, because many problems with the lungs can sometimes lead to low sodium. Glad you had the brain MRI too.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Now and then I get light-headed with low blood pressure. Can not drinking enough then drinking too much (low sodium) cause this?

    c4/5, incomplete, 17 yrs post injury

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