Hyponatremia Complications

Hyponatremia or a low blood sodium level is associated with several complications. In cases of chronic or long-term hyponatremia, the level of sodium in the blood drops gradually over days or weeks symptoms may therefore develop gradually and be of moderate severity.

In cases of acute hyponatremia on the other hand, the risk of developing potentially life-threatening complications is higher. The symptoms develop rapidly, over a very short period of time and may lead to a medical emergency. For example, acute hyponatremia can cause the brain to swell. This is a particularly dangerous condition called cerebral edema that can lead to coma and death within a matter of hours if left untreated.

Brain damage caused by hyponatremia appears to pose a greater risk among premenopausal women, possibly due to the influence of female sex hormones on the body’s ability to regulate sodium levels.

Some of the complications associated with hyponatremia are described below:

Chronic hyponatremia

Chronic hyponatremia can lead to neurological complications that affect a person’s gait or walk as well as their ability to pay attention. Together, these effects lead to a reduced reaction time and an increased susceptibility to falls and injuries. Hyponatremia may also lead to the development of osteoporosis, which can increase the risk of bone fracture. One study showed that the odds of developing osteoporosis were almost three time greater among adults who had mild hyponatremia than among those who had normal blood sodium levels.

Acute hyponatremia

Acute hyponatremia can lead to much more severe complications such as cerebral edema, brain disease, herniation of the brain, cardiopulmonary arrest, seizure, coma and even death.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Gillian Eaves Gillian Eaves United Kingdom says:

    I didn't mean to award a low star rating. I touched the stars wanting to read any reviews. I would have given this article 4½ stars based on it's readability and useful information on hyponatremia. 🙂

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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