Largely misunderstood, hyponatremia corresponds to a decrease in the concentration of sodium in the blood. To a sometimes lethal point. It is “the consequence of an excessive intake of water compared to sodium (salt) or an excess of loss of salt compared to the elimination of water”, explains the Ministry of Health.
Thus, during a heat wave, drinking plenty of water, which is obviously recommended, can have harmful effects in certain populations at risk.
Hyponatremia mainly concerns the elderly because sweating is often impaired or even absent from a certain age, but also patients with chronic diseases (kidney failure, heart failure, liver failure, respiratory failure, endocrine – thyroid problems, diabetes… -, cancers, neuropsychiatric disorders…) and patients taking certain medications such as diuretics and psychotropics.
How to prevent it?
For people at risk, it is important to follow a few rules on a daily basis in the event of high temperatures:
– Do not exceed an intake of 1.5 liters of water per day in addition to foods already rich in water. This is not valid for the general population who will have to continue to drink a lot more to avoid dehydration.
– Adapt drug treatments, having first taken advice from your doctor or pharmacist.
– Absolutely accompany the intake of drinks with a varied diet, dividing meals if necessary, to maintain a sufficient salt intake for the body (bread, soups, etc.).
– Provide “artificial sweating” (regularly wet the skin and ventilate it). Objective: to avoid overheating of the body that natural perspiration keeps at 37°C. And this without having to consume too much water.
– Avoid going outside during the hottest hours. This will avoid the need to drink even more water.
Symptoms and Treatment
In case of onset of asthenia, nausea and vomiting or edema in heart and hepatic insufficiency, it is important to consult quickly to redose the natremia, that is to say the level of sodium in the blood. .
If neuropsychiatric symptoms (lethargy, confusional state, convulsions and coma) occur, severe acute hyponatremia should be considered. This is an emergency: call 15. “The treatment consists of gradually increasing the level of sodium in the blood using intravenous fluids and sometimes a diuretic », says the MSD manual.
Source : ministry in charge of health.