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High sodium level in the blood

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High sodium level in the blood

What is high sodium in the blood called?

  • Hypernatremia

What is the normal level of sodium in the blood?

If you need to know which are the sodium reference ranges or you require more information about the role of sodium in the blood you can visit: Normal sodium level in the blood

What does a high blood sodium level mean?

Sodium levels in the blood are usually given in mEq/L but sometimes you can see these values in mmol/l following the International System of Units (SI). Numeric values are similar in mmol/L or in mEq/L

Hypernatremia or high blood sodium levels in the blood are typical of multiple medical conditions like diarrhea, vomiting or excessive sweating. It can be seen also in case of suffering from diabetes insipidus or disorders of the adrenal glands.

Hypernatremia or high sodium blood levels mean:

  • Mild hypernatremia (145 - 150 mEq/L in adults):

    Although the upper normal limit is 145 mEq/L, values below 150 mEq/L are not a concern. Mild hypernatremia is most often asymptomatic and due to dehydration.

  • Moderate hypernatremia (150 - 155 mEq/L in adults):

    Your sodium level is moderately high and it is necessary to study further the underlying causes.

    A visit to your doctor is recommended to avoid neuromuscular effects. He will tell you how to reduce your sodium level in the blood.

  • Marked hypernatremia (155 - 160 mEq/L in adults):

    Your sodium level is so high that you are probably suffering from muscle weakness, irritability, confusion or seizures.

    You must visit your doctor because you may require hospitalization as marked hypernatremia can lead to coma.

  • Severe hypernatremia (> 160 mEq/L in adults) :

    Severe hypernatremia over 160 mEq/L is a medical emergency requiring urgent treatment.

    Extreme hypernatremia (>190 mEq/l) is associated with mortality rates of over 60%.

Which factors can raise sodium blood levels?

There are some circumstances or drugs than can raise your sodium blood levels:

  • Dehydration (due to excessive sweating, vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Drugs
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
      • Ibuprofen
      • Naproxen
    • Oral Contraceptives
    • Steroids
    • Laxatives
    • Psychotropic drugs
      • Lithium

Which diseases can raise your sodium blood levels?

There are many medical conditions and diseases why the sodium blood level can be higher than normal:

  • Hyperaldosteronism
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Diabetes insipidus
  • Gastroenteritis

What can I do to lower sodium blood levels?

If your sodium blood level is slightly high, you can consider the following tips:

  • Reduce your salt intake: Diets that are high in salt are associated with high sodium blood levels. Sodium content of processed foods (frozen, canned) is usually very high.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water, juice, etc.) each day. You should aim for a total water intake of at least 2 liters per day.

If your blood sodium level is very high and the medical staff thinks it appropriate you may need intravenous fluid therapy.

Where can I find more information about sodium in the blood?

You can visit our pages about:

Which values are considered a high sodium level in the blood?

The following values are considered to be above the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in mEq/L (mmol/L). They are an example of a healthy man of about 45 years of age with no known disease, not taking any medication and with an appropriate intake of sodium in the diet. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

Sodium
Status
Mild hypernatremia
146 mEq/l147 mEq/l148 mEq/l149 mEq/l150 mEq/l   
Moderate hypernatremia
151 mEq/l152 mEq/l153 mEq/l154 mEq/l155 mEq/l   
Marked hypernatremia
156 mEq/l157 mEq/l158 mEq/l159 mEq/l160 mEq/l   
Severe hypernatremia
161 mEq/l162 mEq/l163 mEq/l164 mEq/l165 mEq/l166 mEq/l167 mEq/l168 mEq/l
169 mEq/l170 mEq/l171 mEq/l172 mEq/l173 mEq/l174 mEq/l175 mEq/l176 mEq/l
177 mEq/l178 mEq/l179 mEq/l180 mEq/l181 mEq/l182 mEq/l183 mEq/l184 mEq/l
185 mEq/l186 mEq/l187 mEq/l188 mEq/l189 mEq/l190 mEq/l191 mEq/l192 mEq/l
193 mEq/l194 mEq/l195 mEq/l196 mEq/l197 mEq/l198 mEq/l199 mEq/l200 mEq/l
foto de Dr. Javier Muga Bustamante
Written by

Dr. Javier Muga Bustamante

Last update: 16/03/2020

Bibliography

  • Concise Book of Medical Laboratory Technology: Methods and Interpretations. 2nd Edition. 2015. Ramnik Sood. ISBN: 978-93-5152-333-8. Pag. 560.
  • Tietz. Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry. Carl A. Burtis, Edward R. Ashwood, David E. Bruns, Barbara G. Sawyer. WB Saunders Company, 2008. Pag 432. ISBN: 978-0-7216-3865-2.
  • Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE). Version 5.0.Published: November 27, 2017. U.S. Department of health and human Services. Disponible en: https://ctep.cancer.gov
  • Tietz NW, ed. Clinical guide to laboratory tests, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company,1995:124pp, 502-504,562-564.
  • Matsubara A, Ichihara K, Fukutani S. Determination of reference intervals for 26 commonly measured biochemical analytes with consideration of long-term within-individual variation. Clin Chem Lab Med 2008;46:691-98.

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