What Are the Best Tips for Hypernatremia Management?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2018
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The primary course for hypernatremia management include the use of intravenous fluids or simply drinking more water. Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Ongoing management of the condition is not typically necessary unless there is another underlying health condition. Treatment for the causes of hypernatremia will also be implemented.

Hypernatremia is a condition that impacts the body's balance of electrolytes. It is recognized by unusually high sodium levels in the blood. Most commonly, it is caused by severe dehydration. While most individuals have the ability to know they are very thirsty when blood sodium levels become concentrated, infants, the elderly, chronically ill patients, and the mentally handicapped may not have this natural reaction. It may also make proper hypernatremia management more difficult, because symptoms are not generally obvious from the outside until the condition is extremely progressed.

Most causes of hypernatremia are temporary and can include failure to drink enough fluids or excessive fluid loss through vomiting, urination, or very watery diarrhea. Consuming certain substances can also lead to high sodium levels, including salt water. Very rarely can consuming high levels of sodium in one's everyday diet lead to excessively elevated blood sodium. Occasionally, though, an underlying health condition may prolong these symptoms and hypernatremia management becomes necessary. This may also be the case in those with very severe cases.


When undergoing hypernatremia management treatments, patients are often told to drink as much water as possible. Intravenous fluids containing water and additional fluids may also be given. In very severe cases, these fluids have to be administered very slowly because lowering the blood sodium levels too rapidly could lead to swelling of the brain cells. This could cause permanent brain damage, seizures, or coma.

If there is a chronic underlying condition leading to dehydration and elevated sodium levels, this condition will also be treated and managed. Certain medications or illnesses could cause hypernatremia, and these will be closely monitored. Most individuals can prevent this condition by drinking adequate water throughout the day, especially during times of excessive perspiration, vomiting, or diarrhea. Those who care for elderly patients, children, or mentally handicapped individuals should ensure that these people consume water and other hydrating liquids throughout the day.

It can be very difficult to know when hypernatremia management is required. There are very few outward symptoms, although if dehydration becomes severe enough, the skin may become excessively dry or pale. In very serious cases coma, seizures, or death can occur.



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