Complications of Hyponatremia


Gavel resting on courtroom desk in judge's hand, with stethoscope next to it.Hyponatremia is the name for abnormally low sodium levels in the blood. A number of underlying conditions in the human body can result in the sodium becoming diluted, increasing the water in the body and thereby causing cells to begin to swell. Problems with varying severity can result because of hyponatremia. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of hyponatremia, the potential complications, and the treatment options available.

Potential Risk Factors

There are a few potential factors that can increase an individual’s risk of developing hyponatremia. Unfortunately, some are very common factors and may be difficult to avoid. Risk factors associated with hyponatremia include:

  • Age — as individuals get older, they may have more potential risk factors for hyponatremia. These age-related changes, and the increased potential of developing chronic diseases, may change the balance of sodium in the body.
  • Medications — some medications, such as diuretics, antidepressants, and pain medications can change the sodium balance and increase the risk of hyponatremia.
  • Serious conditions — conditions such as kidney disease, heart failure, and syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) can cause the body to decrease its water excretion. This can cause hyponatremia.
  • Physical activity — when physical activity intensifies and one drinks too much water, sometimes replenishment of the sodium they lose as a result of sweating does not occur. This is especially true for individuals who participate in long-distance activities such as marathons.


Hyponatremia has varying symptoms, some of which can be mild, while others are more severe. Mild or moderate symptoms include nausea, vomiting, confusion, headaches, energy loss, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, muscle weakness, spasms, and cramps. Some of the more severe symptoms can include seizures or coma. Individuals who are at an increased risk of developing hyponatremia should speak with a physician.


There are two types of hyponatremia: chronic and acute. Chronic hyponatremia is associated with moderate symptoms and complications, characterized by falling sodium levels over the course of two days or more. Too-rapid correction of hyponatremia can result in a dangerous brain injury called Osmotic Demyelinization Syndrome (ODS), also known as Central Pontine Myelinolysis (CPM).

Acute hyponatremia causes sodium levels to drop quickly, increasing the risk of severe side effects and rapid brain swelling. Premenopausal women may be at the greatest risk of developing brain damage associated with hyponatremia.

If a person has hyponatremia, but their doctor misdiagnoses the condition, fails to order the proper tests, or fails to administer the correct treatment, serious complications may occur, some of which can even be fatal. Our Houston medical malpractice attorneys at Hampton & King can help determine if malpractice was the cause of serious injuries or death and guide our clients in seeking compensation.

Call us today to discuss a potential lawsuit.