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Hyponatremia can develop when the sodium level in the blood drops below normal. The imbalance of sodium to the amount of water in the body can result in swelling of the brain. If hyponatremia is treated in a timely and controlled manner the condition is often reversible; if it is left untreated then there can be serious complications like brain damage, respiratory failure and even death.

Hyponatremia can result any time there is an electrolyte imbalance in the blood. There are a variety of causes of hyponatremia, including:

  • Head trauma
  • Postoperative complications
  • Medications, especially diuretics, anti-depressants and pain medications
  • Illegal drugs, especially ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Heart failure
  • Excessive consumption of water or beer
  • Excessive diarrhea, vomiting and sweating
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Addison's Disease

If hyponatremia is recognized by a medical care provider it can often be treated without complications. A doctor will usually check sodium levels via a blood or urine test. If levels are below 135 mmol/L then a treatment plan should be instituted and followed. Doctors and health care providers should look for signs in patients that indicate possible hyponatremia.

Patients may exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Confusion, delirium or agitation
  • Seizures
  • Concentration problems
  • Lethargy
  • Balance issues
  • Changes in speech
  • Low blood pressure

Major problems can develop if hyponatremia is overlooked or treated incorrectly. The imbalance of sodium in the blood stream can cause the brain to swell. The skull does not allow much room for swelling, so the pressure on the brain becomes tremendous. This pressure on the brain can then cause respiratory failure, severe brain damage (central pontine myelination), coma and death.

Brett's office is in Louisville, but he handles cases across Kentucky in the areas of Product Liability, Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice. He will help determine if the appropriate actions were taken by your doctor in meeting the required standard of medical care.

If you or a family member has suffered complications resulting from a failure of a doctor or nurse or hospital to recognize and treat hyponatremia, then contact the Kentucky law practice of Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC (502) 242-8877.

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