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Low blood sodium in older adults: A concern?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/low-blood-sodium/AN00621
- With Mayo Clinic geriatrician
Paul Y. Takahashi, M.D.read biographyclose window
Paul Y. Takahashi, M.D.Paul Y. Takahashi, M.D.
"The Internet will impact the lives of all patients young and old. Older and mature patients are no exception to this information explosion." — Dr. Takahashi
Dr. Paul Yoshio Takahashi works with elderly patients as a member of the geriatric consultative group at Mayo Clinic. He works in all medical settings, including the outpatient clinic, the nursing home and occasionally the patient's home. He is especially interested in strategies for successful aging, preventing elder abuse and mistreatment, home telemonitoring, frailty, and cognitive screening in elderly patients.
Dr. Takahashi is a consultant in the Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic. He is an associate professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. He had a fellowship in geriatric medicine at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine from 1997 to 1998.
Dr. Takahashi cares for all of a patient's acute needs and chronic problems and focuses on specialty issues such as memory problems, safety in the home, healthy aging, proper medications and end-of-life concerns.
He sees the Internet playing a growing role in the health information field.
"Patients and their families want and expect the most up-to-date information about life, health, disease and death. Healthy aging as a concept has grown quickly over the last 20 years as we have all lived longer and hopefully better," he says. "I expect that Mayo Clinic will be a significant part of this growing movement of a healthy maturity."
Dr. Takahashi, a native of Pittsfield, Ill., joined Mayo Clinic in 1998 and is board certified in internal medicine with added qualification in geriatric medicine. He is a fellow of the American Geriatrics Society.
Low blood sodium in older adults: A concern?
Why is low blood sodium (hyponatremia) a health concern for older adults? How is it treated?
from Paul Y. Takahashi, M.D.
Low blood sodium (hyponatremia) occurs when you have an abnormally low amount of sodium in your blood, or when you have too much water in your blood. Low blood sodium is common in older adults, especially those who are hospitalized or living in long-term care facilities.
Older adults usually become ill with hyponatremia due to age-related causes that affect the way the body handles the balance of sodium and water, such as:
- Taking certain medications, such as diuretics, antidepressants and pain medications
- Changes in kidney function, such as decreased kidney size or decreased blood flow through the kidneys
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Liver failure (cirrhosis)
- Kidney failure
- Heart failure
- Having high levels of anti-diuretic hormone, which causes you to retain water
- Drinking too much water
- Urinating less frequently
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Addison's disease, a condition affecting the adrenal gland
The signs and symptoms of hyponatremia vary. The only way a doctor can confirm whether you have hyponatremia is by a blood test. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia may include:
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Loss of consciousness or coma
Hyponatremia treatments may include changing a medication that affects your sodium level, changing the amount of water you drink, or changing the amount of salt in your diet.
- Sterns RH. Causes of hyponatremia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 14, 2011.
- Sterns RH. Overview of the treatment of hyponatremia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 14, 2011.
- Sterns RH. Diuretic-induced hyponatremia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 14, 2011.
- Gibbs MA, et al. Electrolyte disturbances. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?sid=1144971942&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..00123-7&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..00123-7&uniqId=239149699-4. Accessed April 13, 2011.