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Management of Hyponatremia in Various Clinical Situations

Opinion statement

Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte abnormality in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The condition primarily results from the combination of impaired free water excretion due to elevated vasopressin levels in conjunction with a source of free water intake. Recent studies have revealed that even mild and asymptomatic hyponatremia is associated with deleterious consequences. It is an independent risk factor for mortality and is also associated with increased length of hospitalization and hospital costs. Even mild chronic hyponatremia can result in subtle neurologic impairment and bone demineralization, leading to falls and associated bone fractures in the elderly. Hyponatremia can be a difficult condition to treat, with varying therapeutic strategies based on the etiology, severity, duration, and extent of neurologic symptoms. The ideal magnitude of correction is also controversial, as both inadequate therapy and overly aggressive therapy can result in neurologic injury. Formulas that have been devised to aid in the treatment of hyponatremia can be inaccurate in that they fail to adequately account for the renal response to therapy. Hyponatremic encephalopathy is the most serious complication of hyponatremia, and can result in permanent neurologic impairment or death if left untreated. Individuals most at risk for developing hyponatremic encephalopathy are postmenarchal women, children under 16 years of age, patients with central nervous system disease or hypoxemia, and patients in the postoperative setting. The preferred therapy for hyponatremic encephalopathy is a 100-ml bolus of 3 % sodium chloride (513 mEq/L) administered in repeated doses until symptoms reverse, with the goal of increasing the serum sodium 5–6 mEq/L. Vasopressin (V2) antagonists (vaptans) are not appropriate for the management of acute hyponatremic encephalopathy, as the onset of action is not sufficiently rapid and the increase in sodium is not predictable. Vaptans are primarily indicated for the treatment of asymptomatic hyponatremia due to SIAD that is refractory to conventional measures.

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Michael L. Moritz reports personal fees from Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.

Juan C. Ayus declares receipt of personal fees from Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, outside the submitted work.

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Correspondence to Michael L. Moritz MD, FAAP.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Neurologic Manifestations of Systemic Disease

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Moritz, M.L., Ayus, J.C. Management of Hyponatremia in Various Clinical Situations. Curr Treat Options Neurol 16, 310 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11940-014-0310-9

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Keywords

  • Hyponatremia
  • Sodium
  • Encephalopathy
  • Demyelination
  • Hypertonic saline
  • Vasopressin 2 antagonists