CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Hypernatremia—Adult

Pronounced: hahy-per-nuh-TREE-mee-uh

Definition

Hypernatremia is when there is too much sodium in the body. It may be serious and requires care from your doctor.

Causes    TOP

Hypernatremia happens when there is an imbalance in the amount of water and sodium in the body—too little water, too much sodium.

The main cause of hypernatremia is having more water leave your body than enter it. This causes dehydration. A person can become dehydrated in different ways, such as:

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of hypernatremia include:

  • Not getting enough fluids or the correct fluids
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Using certain diuretics —medications that increase urination
  • Severe burns
  • Losing too much fluid
  • Increased age
  • Having certain medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney disorder

Symptoms    TOP

Hypernatremia may cause:

  • Being thirsty
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness or muscle cramps
  • Decreased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Lightheadedness
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Muscle twitching

Untreated hypernatremia can be fatal.

Dry Mouth

Dry Mouth and Throat
Dry mouth is a symptom of hypernatremia.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. You will be asked about your fluid intake and urine output. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Treatment    TOP

Fluid Replacement

Liquids can be given by mouth or IV to balance the fluids in your body. The fluid will contain a specific concentration of water, sugar, and sodium. Reintroducing fluids slowly into your body will lower the sodium to a normal level. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

You may also be given medication to treat nausea.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of getting hypernatremia:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of the fluids
  • Work with your doctor to manage any health conditions

RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca/ForPatients

References:

Adrogué HJ, Madias NE. Hypernatremia. N Engl J Med. 2000; 342(20):1493-1499.
Chassagne P, Druesne L, et al. Clinical presentation of hypernatremia in elderly patients: a case control study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006;54(8):1225-1230.
Dehydration and hypovolemia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated October 5, 2015. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Hypernatremia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated August 19, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Hypernatremia. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 2013. Accessed February 26, 2014.
Stuart W, Smellie A, et al. Hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia: Pitfalls in testing. BMJ. 2007; 334(7591): 473-476.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000