Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Seek emergency care for anyone who is at risk of hyponatremia — due to prolonged athletic activity, an underlying medical condition or use of the drug Ecstasy — and develops severe signs and symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, confusion, seizures or lost consciousness.
Call your doctor if you are at risk of hyponatremia and are experiencing nausea, headache, cramping or weakness. Depending on the extent and duration of these signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend seeking immediate medical care.
If you have time to prepare, here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions or instructions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there are any steps you should be following to encourage recovery.
- List any symptoms you or your loved one has been experiencing, and for how long.
- Write down key medical information, including other medical problems for which you are being treated and the names of all medications, vitamins, supplements or other natural remedies you are taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if you are the one with symptoms of low blood sodium. Someone who accompanies you can help remember all of the information and provide support if you need immediate medical care.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
For hyponatremia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What causes hyponatremia?
- How severe is the condition?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- Do I need to be hospitalized? For how long?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms will begin to improve?
- Am I at risk of any long-term problems?
- How can I prevent a recurrence of this condition?
- Do I need to make any changes to how much I usually drink?
What to expect from your doctor
Being ready to answer your doctor's questions may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have your symptoms been getting any better or worse since they first developed?
- Have your symptoms included any mental changes, such as feeling confused, agitated or depressed?
- Have your symptoms included any behavior changes?
- Have you had nausea, vomiting or diarrhea?
- Have you felt faint, had seizures or lost consciousness?
- Have you had a headache? If yes, has it gotten progressively worse?
- Have your symptoms included weakness, fatigue or lethargy?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- Do you use recreational drugs? If yes, which drugs?
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- Sterns RH. Causes of hyponatremia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 3, 2011.
- Lien YH, et al. Hyponatremia: Clinical diagnosis and management. American Journal of Medicine. 2007;120:653.
- Drezner JA, et al. Sports medicine. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-4/0/1481/0.html#. Accessed May 8, 2011.
- Goh KP. Management of hyponatremia. American Family Physician. 2004;69:2387.